Foster baby death under review

After much suffering and torment, I was resurrected large, and pure,  and immaculate.-- Unknown


The mother of a baby who was killed by a man intoxicated on morphine while he was in foster care calls for changes in Saskatchewan's child services system.

A “child death review” launched after a drug addict with a long criminal record viciously assaulted a baby boy in a foster home where they both lived is almost finished, officials say.

The victim’s mother hopes it will result in the closure of Onion Lake Child and Family Services, which was responsible for the child’s protection.

“That’s my biggest dream right now,” said Avaline Parenteau, whose son, Genesis Vandell Parenteau-Dillon, died at the hands of Allen Charles Davidson.

“They’ve done people so wrong. They’re not thinking of what they’re doing to the families,” she said.

Davidson, 38, was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the November 1, 2011, fatal beating at Paradise Hill, 160 kilometres northeast of Lloydminster.

Davidson was on probation at the time related to a conviction for break, enter and assault, for which he had been sentenced to 18 months in jail and 12 months on probation.

He had been living with foster mother Cheryl McLellan about four months before the baby was placed in her home. He was the only adult present when Genesis suffered eight to 10 blunt force injuries to his head and numerous severe contusions to his body.

McLellan, who also had custody of a two-year-old girl at the time, no longer has foster children in her care.

Davidson’s criminal record included 85 prior convictions, including a 2002 conviction for assault and unlawful confinement and two for arson.

Davidson has spent a significant part of his life in custody, Justice Dan Konkin heard at Battleford Court of Queen’s Bench.

Davidson was using morphine and Dilaudid on the day of the fatal assault. That addiction was behind the many property crimes on his record, court heard.

“There needs to be a public inquiry into child protection in Saskatchewan, both in aboriginal and non-aboriginal agencies. Both systems are flawed,” said Tracy Buffalo, Parenteau’s lawyer.

The report of the joint investigation by the Ministry of Social Services and the Onion Lake Child and Family Services agency will not be made public, but will be given to the Children’s Advocate Office, which will decide whether to conduct its own review, said Andrea Brittin, acting assistant deputy minister of child and family services.

The ministry’s child death review will try to establish what went wrong and whether policy changes can prevent future tragedies.

The provincial government has the power to close an agency that regularly breaks the rules, Britton said.

“It’s never happened,” but “we would have the ability to do that,” she said.

Child protection agencies are required to do criminal record checks of all foster parents, Brittin said.

Foster parents are supposed to notify the agency of any other adult living in the home. The agency is required to ensure that a criminal record check is completed on that adult, Brittin said.

Local agencies aren’t alone in keeping children safe.

“It’s the ministry’s responsibility to provide oversight to ensure that that is happening,” Brittin said.

A child death review seeks to determine where the system failed, she said.

It will consider the responsibility and practises of individual staff members, the agency involved and the ministry itself to see if changes are needed, she said.

McLellan was at a foster parent training session at Onion Lake First Nation the day Genesis died, she testified at a preliminary hearing in Lloydminster in May.

She said she had been fostering children aged five and younger for six years and sometimes had as many as five children in her care, the preliminary hearing transcripts show.

“When he came he was dirty and whining all the time and crying. He always had to have a bottle attached to his mouth,” McLellan said.

At a doctor visit on Oct. 18, Genesis was found to be normal, she said, but in the week before his death, he wasn’t eating, she said.

On the day of the fatal assault, McLellan received a text message from Davidson at 1:41 p.m. in which he said the baby had hit his head on the TV stand and had a “goosebump” on his head.

“I didn’t think it was that bad,” she said, the transcript shows.

At 4:06 p.m. Davidson texted that the baby was not looking good. McLellan told him to seek help from the neighbours.

The next door neighbour was a trained first responder for the health region. He found the baby on the kitchen floor and performed CPR until the ambulance arrived.

Genesis was taken to hospital but was declared brain-dead the next day.

McLellan attended Davidson’s sentencing hearing, where she sat near the prisoner’s box and draped her arm affectionately over his shoulder as she spoke to him during a break in the proceedings.








Neglect Hinders Brain Growth in Kids

Stay positve

There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.-- James Truslow Adams



Severe psychological and physical neglect produces measurable changes in children’s brains, according to a new study by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Increasingly we are finding evidence that exposure to childhood adversity has a negative effect on brain development,” said Margaret Sheridan, Ph.D., of the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“The implications are wide-ranging, not just for institutionalized children but also for children exposed to abuse, abandonment, violence during war, extreme poverty and other adversities.”

Researchers led by Sheridan and Charles Nelson, Ph.D., analyzed brain MRI scans from Romanian children in the ongoing Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP), which has transferred some children reared in orphanages into foster care homes.

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, add to earlier studies by Nelson and his colleagues showing cognitive impairment in institutionalized children, but also showing improvements when children are placed in good foster homes.

The researchers compared three groups of 8- to 11-year-old children: 29 who had been reared in an institution; 25 who were selected at random to leave the institution for a high-quality foster care home; and 20 typically developing children who were never in an institution.

Children with histories of any institutional rearing had significantly smaller gray matter volumes in the cortex of the brain than never-institutionalized children, even if they had been placed in foster care, the researchers noted.

Children who remained in institutional care had significantly reduced white matter volume as compared with those never institutionalized. For children who had been placed in foster care, white matter volume was indistinguishable from that of children who were never institutionalized.

The researchers note that growth of the brain’s gray matter peaks during specific times in childhood, indicating periods when environment can strongly influence brain development.

White matter, which is necessary for forming connections in the brain, grows more slowly over time, possibly making it more malleable to foster care intervention, the researchers postulate.

“We found that white matter, which forms the ‘information superhighway’ of the brain, shows some evidence of ‘catch-up,’” said Sheridan. “These differences in brain structure appear to account for previously observed, but unexplained, differences in brain function.”

“Our cognitive studies suggest that there may be a sensitive period spanning the first two years of life within which the onset of foster care exerts a maximal effect on cognitive development,” Nelson added.

“The younger a child is when placed in foster care, the better the outcome.”


Foster baby death under review



The mother of a baby who was killed by a man intoxicated on morphine while he was in foster care calls for changes in Saskatchewan's child services system.
A “child death review” launched after a drug addict with a long criminal record viciously assaulted a baby boy in a foster home where they both lived is almost finished, officials say.
The victim’s mother hopes it will result in the closure of Onion Lake Child and Family Services, which was responsible for the child’s protection.
“That’s my biggest dream right now,” said Avaline Parenteau, whose son, Genesis Vandell Parenteau-Dillon, died at the hands of Allen Charles Davidson.
“They’ve done people so wrong. They’re not thinking of what they’re doing to the families,” she said.
Davidson, 38, was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the November 1, 2011, fatal beating at Paradise Hill, 160 kilometres northeast of Lloydminster.
Davidson was on probation at the time related to a conviction for break, enter and assault, for which he had been sentenced to 18 months in jail and 12 months on probation.
He had been living with foster mother Cheryl McLellan about four months before the baby was placed in her home. He was the only adult present when Genesis suffered eight to 10 blunt force injuries to his head and numerous severe contusions to his body.
McLellan, who also had custody of a two-year-old girl at the time, no longer has foster children in her care.
Davidson’s criminal record included 85 prior convictions, including a 2002 conviction for assault and unlawful confinement and two for arson.
Davidson has spent a significant part of his life in custody, Justice Dan Konkin heard at Battleford Court of Queen’s Bench.
Davidson was using morphine and Dilaudid on the day of the fatal assault. That addiction was behind the many property crimes on his record, court heard.
“There needs to be a public inquiry into child protection in Saskatchewan, both in aboriginal and non-aboriginal agencies. Both systems are flawed,” said Tracy Buffalo, Parenteau’s lawyer.
The report of the joint investigation by the Ministry of Social Services and the Onion Lake Child and Family Services agency will not be made public, but will be given to the Children’s Advocate Office, which will decide whether to conduct its own review, said Andrea Brittin, acting assistant deputy minister of child and family services.
The ministry’s child death review will try to establish what went wrong and whether policy changes can prevent future tragedies.
The provincial government has the power to close an agency that regularly breaks the rules, Britton said.
“It’s never happened,” but “we would have the ability to do that,” she said.
Child protection agencies are required to do criminal record checks of all foster parents, Brittin said.
Foster parents are supposed to notify the agency of any other adult living in the home. The agency is required to ensure that a criminal record check is completed on that adult, Brittin said.
Local agencies aren’t alone in keeping children safe.
“It’s the ministry’s responsibility to provide oversight to ensure that that is happening,” Brittin said.
A child death review seeks to determine where the system failed, she said.
It will consider the responsibility and practises of individual staff members, the agency involved and the ministry itself to see if changes are needed, she said.
McLellan was at a foster parent training session at Onion Lake First Nation the day Genesis died, she testified at a preliminary hearing in Lloydminster in May.
She said she had been fostering children aged five and younger for six years and sometimes had as many as five children in her care, the preliminary hearing transcripts show.
“When he came he was dirty and whining all the time and crying. He always had to have a bottle attached to his mouth,” McLellan said.
At a doctor visit on Oct. 18, Genesis was found to be normal, she said, but in the week before his death, he wasn’t eating, she said.
On the day of the fatal assault, McLellan received a text message from Davidson at 1:41 p.m. in which he said the baby had hit his head on the TV stand and had a “goosebump” on his head.
“I didn’t think it was that bad,” she said, the transcript shows.
At 4:06 p.m. Davidson texted that the baby was not looking good. McLellan told him to seek help from the neighbours.
The next door neighbour was a trained first responder for the health region. He found the baby on the kitchen floor and performed CPR until the ambulance arrived.
Genesis was taken to hospital but was declared brain-dead the next day.
McLellan attended Davidson’s sentencing hearing, where she sat near the prisoner’s box and draped her arm affectionately over his shoulder as she spoke to him during a break in the proceedings.

Foster parent on trial for child sex crimes



 A former foster parent accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl will go on trial this morning.

Jury selection in the trial of James Terrell Austin concluded Monday afternoon. The 12 Gaston County residents will decide whether or not the 34-year-old man committed sex acts against a girl who was in his care in 2009.

The child, now 13, has since been adopted.

Austin, who remains in jail under a $1 million bond, rejected a plea offer in June.

Austin is charged with five counts of first-degree sex offense against a child, four counts of indecent liberties with a child, five counts of sex offense in a parental role and four counts of firstdegree rape of a child.

The plea offer would have meant 12 to 15 years in prison for Austin, who has no previous child sex crime convictions, according to Assistant District Attorney Megan Rhoden.

Austin has been in Gaston County Jail since his arrest in September 2011.

Potential jurors were questioned for hours Monday by prosecutors Rhonden and Stephanie Hamlin, and defense attorney Gus Anthony.

Each man and woman was asked if they had ever been victims of sex crimes and if they were capable of hearing testimony and evidence on the subject.

The trial, overseen by Superior Court Judge Bob Ervin, is expected to take about a week to complete.



Charges Pending Against Foster Parents in Toddler's Death




JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Charges are expected to be filed against the foster parents of a 3-year-old girl who was found dead in a car in Jackson County.
Deputies say "Jasmine" was left in the car for nearly three hours before she was found.
The family had just gotten back from church and had several children and adults in a SUV. Investigators say everyone got out the vehicle and went inside the house to take naps.
Jackson County Deputies estimate the little girl was inside the hot vehicle for about three hours before her family realized she was missing about 3:30 p.m. Sunday. She died in the driveway.
"Through some sort of confusion about which parent may have done what the 3-year-old was left in the child seat in the third row seat in an SUV," Chief Deputy Tony Boggs - Jackson County Sheriff's Department said. "It's the worst case of dealing with a child death especially one that didn't have to happen."
The family told detectives Jasmine fell asleep on the way home from church and they didn't realize she was left in the car.
In an interview with WSAZ.com, the victim's foster uncle says the family is devastated about what's happened.
"We love the heck out of them and still love the heck out of them even though this happened," David Hafer, the victim's foster uncle said. "They always called me uncle Dave and I always liked that...I'd play with them all the time and they were as happy as all get out I thought."
"Just the middle of the summer and the heat that we've had -- it takes very little time for something of this nature to occur," Chief Deputy Boggs said. "Uh you know, it gives you goose bumps you can't imagine."
Deputies say they expect to file child neglect charges against the child's foster parents this week.
Investigators tell WSAZ.com the couple also had custody of an older child, but CPS has now taken custody of him, according to deputies.
"They were just in our family just the same as any of the rest of our kids were and we love them to pieces and we hate that this happened -- I'm telling you because those kids are just like our family and we really do miss them," Hafer said. "They were just all happy to get out to church and...I just don't know it's weird...I don't like it a bit but I don't know."
Jasmine's foster parent is blaming himself for taking the family to church, according to Hafer.
"He says if maybe he hadn't have gone to church maybe this wouldn't have happened. And I said no..., going to church didn't make it happen or what not," Hafer said. "God's not going to take care of things like this -- that's the devil doing that."
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
________________________________________
UPDATE 7/22/12 10:55 p.m.
JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- New details have emerged after a small child died after being left in a vehicle in the Silverton area of Jackson County.
WSAZ.com has learned the family had just gotten back from church and had several children and adults in a SUV.
Investigators say everyone got out the vehicle except for a 3-year-old girl who was left in the vehicle.
Jackson County Deputies estimate the little girl was inside the hot vehicle for about three hours before her family realized she was missing. She died in the driveway.
The incident is under investigation, but is still being treated as an accident as of Sunday night.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
________________________________________
ORIGINAL STORY
JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A small child has died after being left in a car.
Emergency crews at the scene tell WSAZ.com it happened in the Silverton area of Jackson County.
Emergency crews say it appears to be accidential. The Jackson County Sheriff's Department has been called to the scene to investigate.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

Over-medication becoming problem among foster kids



COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report that shows a child in foster care is 4.5 times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic than a child who is not in foster care.

Sophia, a 15-year-old who asked KRDO Newschannel 13 not to reveal her last name, said she was prescribed a series of medications during her stay at a residential treatment facility.

Sophia was abused and neglected as a child, and while living at the facility, she said she was having difficulty concentrating. She told KRDO Newschannel 13 that the dosage she was prescribed to treat this symptom was too much, making her lethargic.

“I had nowhere to go. Like I was stuck. Like I couldn’t move. Like I felt like I was so drowsy, I couldn’t even wake up,” she said of her feelings while on her medications.

Sophia said she was taking about 12 pills daily, including Lithium and Adderall.

Adderall is used primarily to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Lithium can be used to treat many conditions, including mania and depression.

Sophia’s court-appointed special advocate, or CASA, Michelle Lobato, said she knew something was wrong.

“She would fall asleep and was just not 'with it.' It concerned me. It actually scared me, to be honest with you,” said Lobato.

Lobato said Sophia opened up to her during their time together, and Lobato knew she had to intervene to get Sophia a different medical staff and an alternative treatment.

Lobato fought to have Sophia transferred to a new residential treatment facility, one closer to Sophia's home.

“What I knew was that we would have to have a whole new medical staff, and they would reevaluate her immediately,” said Lobato.

Lobato's efforts were successful, and Sophia was transferred to a new facility where the doctors discovered she had toxic levels of medications in her body.

Sophia had been over-medicated, according to her mother, but she has recovered. Sophia is now living at home with her mother, where she says she is happy and healthy.

Lobato said there are several cases similar to Sophia's that have potential to not end as well.

“There’s too many. There’s way too many. One is too many,” she said.

Lobato said it is very important for parents, teachers, friends and others who encounter children, in foster care and out, to pay attention to these kids and look for signs of over-medication.

“'When good people do nothing, evil prevails. We have to do something. That’s all there is to it,” she said.

The CASA association is a team of trained volunteers appointed by judges to advocate for each child in the foster care and family court systems. They strive to ensure the child is not overlooked or ignored by the system.

To get involved with CASA and help children like Sophia, more information can be found here.


Former Tulsa foster parent sent to prison for child sex-abuse


A former Tulsa foster parent pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually abusing three girls, two of whom were foster children in his care.

A Tulsa County judge sentenced Donald Ellis Lehmbeck to 35 years in prison.

Lehmbeck, 65, pleaded guilty to five felony counts — four counts of child sexual abuse and one count of possessing obscene or indecent writings.

Two of the abuse counts involved a girl, then age 6, who is a relative of a woman who lived with Lehmbeck in the 6800 block of West 41st Place.

Lehmbeck was charged March 24, 2011, in that matter. He was arrested a day later at a Texas airport while en route to Costa Rica, law enforcement officials reported.

The other two abuse counts were filed in June 2011, when Lehmbeck was in the Tulsa Jail. Those counts involve girls who were placed in his foster care by the Department of Human Services.

One girl lived at Lehmbeck’s residence in January and February 2011, and the other was in his care in 2009, court records show.

One of those girls was 9 or 10 years old and the other was 4 or 5 years old at the time of the offenses, records show.

In the obscenity count, prosecutors alleged that Lehmbeck’s computer contained “numerous narrative stories describing sexual acts between adults and prepubescent children,” a document says.

In accordance with a plea agreement, District Judge James Caputo sentenced Lehmbeck on Thursday to 35 years in prison. By law he is required to serve 85 percent — almost 30 years, which would extend the sentence to around his 95th birthday — before becoming eligible for release.

Lehmbeck has spent more than 15 months in the Tulsa Jail and gets credit on his sentence for time already served.


DCF investigator on run from child-sex charges arrested



STAY POSITIVE:  The three great essentials to achieving anything worthwhile are; first, hard work, second, stick-to-it-iveness, and third, common sense.  -- Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931) American Inventor

DCF investigator on run from child-sex charges arrested


On the run for much of a week after he was linked to a high-profile investigation into the sexual trafficking of foster children, a state child-abuse investigator was arrested Saturday while he was trying to flee to the Dominican Republic.

Jean LaCroix, who has been on paid administrative leave since May from his job as a child-protective investigator with the Department of Children & Families, had been in New York City preparing to flee the United States, said Ed Griffith, a spokesman for Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle. LaCroix had reserved a flight to the Dominican Republic Friday night but never boarded the plane, which had been under surveillance by police and federal agents.

The original flight reservation “may have been a decoy,” Griffith said, or LaCroix may have been scared off before boarding.

Federal authorities then learned LaCroix was flying to the Caribbean nation Saturday morning, but were unable to stop the plane from taking off. Instead, federal authorities asked customs agents in the Dominican to refuse LaCroix entry. They did, and LaCroix was immediately returned to New York, where he was arrested.

Prosecutors believe LaCroix ultimately was headed for Haiti, where he grew up, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.

FIVE COUNTS

LaCroix, 46, was charged with five counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, according to an arrest warrant signed by Detective Jeannette Azcuy, who headed up the case for the Miami-Dade Police Department.

“If he had gotten to Haiti, we would never have seen him again,” Griffith said.

Police, prosecutors and U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement agents “all went to extraordinary lengths to take this man into custody as he tried to flee the country,” said Rundle. “But for those who work child exploitation and human trafficking cases, extraordinary efforts are just part of the everyday routine.”

DCF is in the process of firing LaCroix, said agency spokesman Joe Follick. Months ago, when agency administrators learned of his alleged actions, they conducted a detailed review of his caseload to ensure he had not had sex with any other underage girls, Follick added.

“We are extremely grateful for the hard work of law enforcement and the state attorney’s office,” Follick added. “We will continue to work with them in this case and in the future to protect all children.”

72 PHONE CALLS

According to the warrant obtained by The Miami Herald late Saturday, Miami-Dade police learned May 7 from a DCF investigator that a girl under agency supervision disclosed she had repeatedly had sex with LaCroix, who had been the investigator assigned to her child-abuse case.

Beginning on Oct.11, and lasting until child-welfare administrators moved his alleged victim to a different part of the county the next January, LaCroix allegedly met with the girl numerous times, the warrant says.

The teen told police she would call LaCroix from her cell phone to his, and they would arrange to meet near her school. From there, LaCroix would take the girl back to his home to have sex, the warrant says.

LaCroix’s state-issued cell phone, the warrant says, showed “considerable” phone activity between LaCroix and the girl. From Dec. 24 through Jan. 23 alone, the two spoke on the phone 72 times, the warrant says.

A review of phone records showed that, on at least five occasions, LaCroix and the foster child spoke on the phone either early in the morning before school or during school hours, when the girl had been absent from school without an excuse, the warrant says.

On May 4, the warrant says, DCF administrators told LaCroix to stop speaking with the girl. Nevertheless, the girl told police she both saw and spoke with him two days later. On May 7, the agency placed LaCroix on administrative leave with pay, and seized his cell phone. But LaCroix continued to call the girl from another phone, “and instructed her to call him” from something other than her cell phone.



Md. boy, 12, charged with beating death of 2-year-old foster child, Aniya Batchelor


STAY POSITIVE:  When someone does something good, applaud! You will make two people happy. -- Samuel Goldwyn

Md. boy, 12, charged with beating death of 2-year-old foster child, Aniya Batchelor
Police were called to a Ft. Washington home after Aniya's foster father called 911 Tuesday night to report that he discovered the girl unresponsive. She was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Julie Parker, a county police spokeswoman, said an autopsy confirmed Wednesday the child died from blunt force trauma. The boy is being charged as a juvenile and his name is not being released.
"Detectives developed probable cause to charge the boy after conducting interviews with the family," Parker said.
The 12-year-old made his first appearance in court Thursday. He is being held at the Cheltenham Youth Facility.
Parker confirmed that Aniyah was a foster child living with the 12-year-old boy and his biological family. Both children lived in the home with two other biological children, a 15-year-old and a 9-year-old.

Shocking Reports of Overmedicated Foster Children Force Government Review


STAY POSITIVE:  I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived
the length of it. I want to live the width of it as well. -- Diane Ackerman
 
Shocking Reports of Overmedicated Foster Children Force Government Review

Three years ago, Mirko and Regina Ceska of Crawfordville, Florida, told former Gov. Charlie Crist their two adopted 12-year-olds had been prescribed 11 pills a day, including the powerful antipsychotic Seroquel, reported the Tampa Bay Times.

“These girls were overdosed and would fall asleep right in front of us several times a day,” Mirko Ceska told Crist at an “Explore Adoption Day’’ event. “It seems to be a prerequisite for foster children to be on medication,” said Ceska, calling the pills “chemical restraint.”

The couple’s remarks came on the heels of the suicide of Gabriel Myers, a 7-year-old in Florida foster care who was prescribed psychiatric drugs, including Symbyax, not approved for children because of links to suicidal thinking. More than 15 percent of 20,000 foster care children in Florida are medicated, says the Times and doctors and case managers treating medicated 6- and 7-year-olds “routinely failed to complete legally required treatment plans, share information or properly document the prescribing of powerful psychiatric drugs.”

Now, less than a year after passage of the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act which sought to improve protocols for psychotropic medications in children, three government agencies—the Administration for Children and Families, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—are convening a meeting with hundreds of state officials to address medication guidelines on August 27 and 28.

“This is an urgent issue, and child-centered organizations and individuals need to let state and federal administrators, Congress and state legislators know that it needs immediate action,” says Edward Opton, a psychologist and lawyer involved in child welfare issues. “The medical literature shows no studies of the long-term effects of antipsychotic drugs on children, including drugs for so-called conduct disorder, the condition for which they are most frequently prescribed to children. There are no data on drugged vs. undrugged children with respect to completion of school, employment, early pregnancy, imprisonment, or subjective quality of life as evaluated by the children or by anyone else.”

Both private and public youth facilities have been plagued with scandals. One large provider, Universal Health Services Inc., known as the “Standard Oil of mental illness,” recently agreed to pay $6.85 million to the U.S. and the state of Virginia to settle allegations that its Keystone Marion Youth Center provided “substandard psychiatric counseling and treatment to adolescents in violation of Medicaid requirements, falsified records and submitted false claims to the Medicaid program.” It chose to close the youth center.

There were two suicides in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice’s system of eight facilities between September 2008 and September 2009 and a follow-up report disclosed that a full 98 percent of the children are on psychoactive drugs.

Like the elderly in state care, children in state care prove tempting targets for both disreputable operators and Big Pharma because they do not make their own medication decisions, they are covered by public funds and the designation of behavioral problems in such settings is seldom questioned. Profit schemes often involve expensive antipsychotics like Seroquel, Zyprexa, Risperdal and Geodon whose safety and efficacy are in dispute, especially in children and the elderly.

In 2007, Bristol-Myers Squibb settled a federal suit for $515 million charging that it illegally hawked the antipsychotic Abilify to children and the elderly, bilking taxpayers.

The next year, the state of Texas charged Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen with defrauding the state of millions with “a sophisticated and fraudulent marketing scheme,” to “secure a spot for the drug, Risperdal, on the state’s Medicaid preferred drug list and on controversial medical protocols that determine which drugs are given to adults and children in state custody.”

Soon after, Idaho, Washington, Montana, Connecticut, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, Arkansas and Texas took Big Pharma to court over the antipsychotic spree.

When, during the same time period, the state of Florida began requiring doctors to get approval for high priced antipsychotics before giving them to kids under age six on Medicaid, more evidence of overmedication emerged: prescriptions for the pills dropped from 3,167 in 2007 to 844 in 2008, reported the Tampa Bay Times.



For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:35-40


Sexual assault charges against foster mother dismissed by judge


STAY POSITIVE:  If successful people have one common trait, it's an utter lack of
cynicism. The world owes them nothing. They go out and find what they
need without asking for permission; they're driven, talented, and
work through negatives by focusing on the positives. -- Mike Zimmerman
 


Sexual assault charges against foster mother dismissed by judge

Sexual assault charges against a foster mother accused of having sexual contact with children placed in her care have been dismissed, but a similar criminal case against her son will continue.

Eau Claire County Assistant District Attorney Meri Larson asked Judge Paul Lenz Friday to dismiss two felony counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child against Jane M. Howard, 48, 9400 Olson Drive.

Larson said she didn't have enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict Howard of the charges.

But if she receives additional evidence in the future, Larson said she could re-file the charges.

The case against Joshua B. Howard, 22, 1913 Seventh St., who is accused of having sexual contact with four boys, continues.

Joshua Howard, formerly of 9400 Olson Drive, faces three felony counts of repeated sexual assault of a child and one felony count of first-degree sexual assault of a child, and returns to court July 25.

According to the criminal complaint:

The sexual contact occurred between 2002 and 2008.

Two of the boys were seven years old when the contact began. The other two boys were ages 10 and 12 when the sexual contact started.

One of the 7-year-old boys said both Joshua and Jane Howard had sexual contact with him.

Two of the boys said Joshua Howard used access to video or computer games as leverage to get them to participate in sexual activities.

One of the younger boys said the sexual contact ruined his life.

Joshua Howard admitted being sexually active with one of the boys but denied any sexual contact with other foster children at the residence.

Joshua Howard's father told authorities he thought this was nothing more than "boys will be boys" type of activity.



For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:35-40


Girl at another Florida foster home also lured into prostitution


STAY POSITIVE:  We must find time to stop and thank the people who have made a
difference in our lives.  -- Dan Zadra
 

A recent bust of men recruiting foster-care girls in Homestead for prostitution wasn’t the first time such accusations came up in Florida.

For thousands of foster children, the search for a permanent family is framed by a display in the “heart gallery,” an annual showcase where heartwarming pictures of smiling, laughing and frolicking children beckon to prospective parents.

But A.B., a 16-year-old foster child from Jacksonville, was being sold with an entirely different set of photos. She wore high heels, a black skirt and a tight tank top that showed off her cleavage.

The caption for A.B.’s picture: “Experience me to know I will be your best!”

An ad in Backpage.com gushed that the girl’s “hands will be your best asset,” and added “$100 gift donation due upon arrival.”

The Backpage photos were a tawdry milestone in A.B.’s descent into prostitution — documented as part of the federal prosecution of her alleged pimp, Gregory Goellet Hodge Jr., who, authorities say, recruited the girl near the foster-care group home where she lived.

The case, which is still pending, shares eerie similarities to the arrest last week of four Miami-Dade men who, police say, recruited foster children from a group home to work at a Homestead brothel.

The girls caught up in the Miami prostitution ring share the same foster-care agency as A.B.: the Children’s Home Society of Florida.

Although the trafficking in underage girls into prostitution is not limited to kids in foster care, children’s advocates say such children are particularly attractive targets to pimps: They are separated from family, often poorly supervised, crave attention and affection, and often run away from caregivers to the streets.

“You would have to be naive to think that pimps do not realize this,” said Staca Shehan, director of case analysis for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Virginia. “This class of minors are vulnerable. It’s not uncommon for foster children to run away. Once you run away, how do you support yourself? What do you do to find shelter and safety? What do you do to provide that for yourself?’’

The investigation into the underage prostitution of foster children in Miami continues.

State Attorney Katherine Fern├índez Rundle said last week that her agency, together with police, intended to file additional charges in cases where men have lured young girls into the sex trade, and will vigorously pursue the girls’ clients.

Sources told The Miami Herald last week that judges at Miami-Dade’s Children’s Courthouse who preside over child-welfare cases were given lists of girls in their divisions who police believe had been trafficking victims. The lists named several teenagers in addition to the four identified by their initials in last week’s arrests.

Sources also told the newspaper that such trafficking was not limited to foster-care group homes operated by Children’s Home Society.

“These girls all had very tragic, complicated pasts,” said David Wilkins, secretary of the Department of Children & Families, which pays the group-home bills for foster children. “All these girls have seen the hard side of life.”

When asked what he would say to people concerned about two such cases in less than 12 months at CHS facilities, President/CEO David Bundy said he would point to the company’s years of experience and emphasize the troubled backgrounds of the teens they receive.

“It’s a population of kids who, unfortunately, have been mistreated, do not have any good adult role models, and set up with bad actors who show them affection and convince them that they care about them, in some cases, and really take advantage of them,” Bundy said.

In Jacksonville, a plea agreement filed in the Middle District of Florida outlined the accusations against Hodge and how he allegedly shopped around A.B. As part of the deal, Hodge would have pleaded to one count of sex trafficking a minor, which carried a minimum of 10 years in prison, the records said. Other counts would have been dropped.

But the deal didn’t become final, and the case is ongoing. Hodge’s lawyer declined to comment.

Here is how the agreement described the business and A.B.’s role:

A.B. was part of Hodge’s massage business. His plan was simple: Recruit women willing to work for him, put advertisements out for massages and body rubs under the category of “Jacksonville Adult Entertainment,” and split the money between him and the girls.

Some meetings involved massages, typically without clothes, A.B. told investigators.

And some involved sex.

In July, Hodge met A.B. and began recruiting her.

He found her walking near the Children’s Home Society.

“That’s where you live?” he asked her.

“Yeah,” she replied, telling him she was 17, padding her real age by a year. She hoped he thought she was 18.

Hodge soon recruited her for his business.

Wilkins told The Miami Herald that the teen eventually became more than just an employee. Before A.B. left the group home, “she recruited a lot of the other girls in the home,” he said.

Like a teenager in the Miami case, identified as S.S., A.B. sought out other girls to share her plight — a development that is not uncommon in human trafficking, Shehan said. “Once they’ve recruited a victim into their confidence, they will send her back into the foster-care system to recruit other victims,” she said.

A.B. was with the Children’s Home Society because of her involvement with the juvenile justice system. But soon after meeting Hodge, she was staying in his home, instead, the plea documents said. She was there about a month.

Her first advertisement went up July 14 on Backpage.com. He called her “Daisy” and lured in potential clients with the promise of a “private massage specialist.”

The ad boasted about her willingness to travel, her professional session experience and how her hands were her best asset.

The pictures attached showed off her other assets. One showed the front of her body, one showed the side of her body, and the third showed her cleavage, the court records said. She wore heels, a short skirt and a tight tank top. They showed the many curves of her body, but all stopped before her chin. They never showed her face.

Her first job was a commercial sex act.

“I thought it was supposed to be a massage,” A.B. recalled telling Hodge.

He replied, “Well, do whatever you have to do for the money.”

The ad went up on Backpage.com, which has gotten scrutiny from across the country for hosting ads that, like with A.B., are veiled sales of girls for sex. It’s owned by Village Voice Media Holdings LLC. Critics say the ads make business even easier for the pimps.

Liz McDougall, general counsel for Village Voice Media, said the company screens ads in its adult section twice before they go up, once by a computer and once by a person, and a third time after the ads are published looking for signs of illegal activity. Once they’ve been notified of a law enforcement investigation, they immediately cooperate, she said.

But they don’t think removing the ads solves the problem, McDougall said. They believe the ads would only move to another company, one that might be less inclined to work with police or not required to because it’s based overseas.

Critics say they don’t believe Backpage.com does enough and remains a clearinghouse for trafficking.

In Jacksonville, A.B.’s ad was renewed five times in less than a month. The ad had a phone number, court records said, which rang the phone of a woman who worked for Hodge.

Like the other women, A.B. collected money from clients and gave it to Hodge, who handed her a cut. She told investigators she had about three clients a day. The girl only remembered some of her customers. Investigators tracked down one, living in a luxury condominium on the St. John’s River in downtown Jacksonville called The Strand. Twice, she told agents, Hodge drove her there; she went to the customer’s unit and had sex with him for money.

She got $140 each time, which she split with Hodge.

Afterward, she would call Hodge to pick her up.

Detectives later interviewed the client, who was not indicted, according to the plea agreement. They asked if he and “Daisy” had sex.

“It depends on your definition of sex,” he told them, according to the documents.

The business eventually unraveled when Hodge decided to stiff his employee, sources told the newspaper.

A.B. left Hodge and found another pimp. Together with the new pimp, sources said, A.B. abducted Hodge and a young relative, tied him up and ransacked his house looking for money. The incident led to her arrest, and the discovery of Hodge’s business.

In the end, A.B. retained some honor, sources said. She took from Hodge only the money she said he owed her.




For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:35-40