Fresno foster mom faces trial in 1-month-old’s death


 

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A person is only as big as the dream they dare to live. -- Unknown
 
Fresno foster mom faces trial in 1-month-old’s death

Hours of sometimes graphic testimony were enough to convince a judge Thursday that Fresno resident Jovannee Reynolds should stand trial for killing her foster daughter.

Reynolds, 25, is accused of shaking 1-month-old Mikayla Tabin to death in September 2010.

"It wouldn't happen from a fall. It wouldn't happen from a hit. It would have to happen from severe forcible injury," said Philip Hyden, pediatrician and medical director at Children's Hospital Central California.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Gregory Fain ordered Reynolds to return to court Sept. 12 for a pre-trial briefing. She faces 25 years to life in prison on charges of murder and assault. She is also charged with abusing a 3-year-old boy in her care.

She has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail.

Reynolds' attorney Martin Teleisnik suggested Thursday that Mikayla's fatal brain injury could be the result of freak trauma that occurred during her birth or even an assault by her foster brother. But he said the record is too scant to pinpoint a cause.

The only thing that was clear during the nearly five-hour hearing was the tragedy of Mikayla's brief life.

Her biological mother tested positive for methamphetamine use when Mikayla was born, according to court testimony. Her mother abandoned her at a local drug-care facility.

Five days after birth, county social workers placed Mikayla with Reynolds and her husband, who had been licensed for foster care only a month earlier.

After two weeks in the couple's apartment, Reynolds observed Mikayla having trouble breathing and took her to the hospital, where she died.

Reynolds' husband is not charged with a crime.

Reynolds showed little emotion in court Thursday. She sat studiously, often taking notes during testimony and passing them on to her attorney.

Several of her family members were there to support her.

Prosecutor Jeff Dupras pursued a line of questioning that painted her as a woman with little experience with children and no patience with them.

Police investigator Andre Benson testified that Reynolds' apartment manager told him "Jovannee was constantly complaining about other kids playing in the complex and making too much noise."

Other neighbors heard regular and abnormal crying from Reynolds' apartment, Benson said.

Benson also said that Reynolds passed off bruises observed on her foster son as the boy pinching himself or throwing himself against the wall.

Later testimony suggested that the boy's new foster parent never observed such self-mutilating behavior.

County social workers were aware that Reynolds was having problems with her foster son before Mikayla's death, according to county documents.

The boy, though, was not removed from the home until after Mikayla died.

 

 

 

Tulsa Foster Mother Charged With Felony Child Abuse


 

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Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.    -- Sophia Loren

 

Tulsa Foster Mother Charged With Felony Child Abuse

A Tulsa foster mother is facing felony child abuse charges after an elementary school nurse reported injuries declared "consistent with excessive punishment or abuse."

A warrant was issued on May 22 for the arrest of Shannon Becktold, 30. She was arrested Thursday and booked into the Tulsa County jail on two complaints of child abuse by injury and released on $50,000 bond four hours later.

According to court documents filed in June, a 6-year-old girl went to her school nurse on Feb. 8 and complained of leg pain. The nurse observed bruising on her upper thigh, which the child said was from a spanking the day before.

The child told the nurse she was spanked with a belt for hiding food under her bed, a probable cause affidavit says.

Tulsa police and the Department of Human Services also responded to the school that day to observe the bruising and welts. Upon learning there were two other children – ages 3 and 12 – in the home, DHS took all three into immediate custody, the documents say.

The children were examined by a doctor at the Justice Center the following day, and the doctor told investigators bruises on the 3- and 6-year-old children "were consistent with being struck with a flexible, straight object such as a belt or cord," and they were not normal childhood injuries, but those of excessive punishment or abuse, the affidavit says.

 

 

Accused foster mother using baby burping as defense


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To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man's life. -- T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American Poet


Accused foster mother using baby burping as defense

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A foster mother is using baby burping as her defense in a child murder case in Fresno that could send her to prison.

The suspect will be held to answer on murder charges for the death of a newborn who died in her care. Investigators say Jovannee Reynolds took the baby to Children's Hospital Central California after she stopped breathing.

Doctors determined the child had suffered major head trauma that ended her life.

The baby's story is tragic for many reasons. Mikayla was placed in Jovannee Reynolds' care after prosecutors say she tested positive for meth at birth. But only days later, the baby was abandoned by her mother at a drug rehab center. Sadly, that wasn't the worst that would happen to little Mikayla.

Jovannee Reynolds is facing murder charges but walked into court with her family since she is free on bail.

Homicide investigators say in September of 2010 Reynolds was caring for a newborn when she told officers the child became non-responsive.

Instead of calling 911, police say Reynolds got ready then drove the infant to the hospital. Days later, the baby died.

Homicide Detective Andre Benson says when he interviewed Reynolds, she described a disturbing way she burped the baby. He says she demonstrated using a doll, and didn't support the newborn's head or neck.

"In the last 16 years, I've seen a lot as a police officer, and a lot investigating violent crime. I've never seen anyone burp a baby like that. And that burping technique that she used, to show me how she fed, burped Mikayla is something I will never forget. I've never seen that before," Benson said.

Dr. Phillip Hyden is an expert in the field of child abuse at Children's Hospital Central California.

"There's no other abnormality that we could come up with in our evaluation of this child that would be anything other than major trauma," Hyden said.

He described countless traumatic injuries to Mikayla that ultimately caused her entire body to shut down. Among them, he says she was shaken back and forth with great force.

"The only other thing I could think to cause this is like being ejected out of a motor vehicle going at a very significantly high speed or falling over a very high height of 10 feet," Hyden said.

Reynolds' attorney didn't present any theory about who or what may have caused Mikayla's severe injuries, but he says his client denies shaking the baby.

"I don't know and I think at least from our perspective, no one knows because from day one there's always been a disbelief that there is an act which Jovanee committed. She's flat-out denied it all the time," Reynolds' attorney, Martin Taleisnik, said.

But a judge ruled there is enough evidence to hold the foster mother to answer on several felony crimes. Jovannee Reynolds could serve 25 years to life in prison if she is found guilty of killing Mikayla Tabin.

 

 

 

Severely beaten child was under county watch


 

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It is good to dream, but it is better to dream and work.  Faith is mighty, but action with faith is mightier. - Thomas Robert Gaines


2-year-old's caregiver lived with felon accused of hurting him

Hamilton County’s child welfare agency allowed a woman who twice before was accused of abuse and neglect – although the charges were never proved – to care for a 2-year-old whose own mother neglected him, Hamilton County Juvenile Court records show.

And the agency didn’t know that the woman, Mary Enzenbacher, was living with a convicted robber and abuser, those records show.

That man, Anthony Walton, 34, was arrested Monday on a charge of felonious assault, accused of severely beating the toddler in their Over-the-Rhine home, according to Cincinnati police records.

Enzenbacher – who has not been charged with a crime – admitted to police she witnessed the boy “being beaten over the past few days by Mr. Walton” and “refused to seek medical attention for him,” court records show. She could not be reached for comment.

According to court records, the boy suffered a cut to his liver, broken ribs and a “significant” head wound. He was so hurt, doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center couldn’t immediately operate. He remains hospitalized, Cincinnati police said Wednesday.

The welfare agency is reviewing the case to see if it could have done anything differently.

“We’re cooperating with police and doing our investigation,” said Hamilton County Job and Family Services spokesman Brian Gregg.

Unsubstantiated claims are not uncommon and would not have ruled out Enzenbacher as a caregiver. The court records show an unsubstantiated neglect charge in 2008 and an unsubstantiated physical abuse charge in 2006.

JFS would have had access to those records; it’s unclear if the agency knew. Gregg declined to comment on details.

JFS records show a caseworker saw the boy twice in August, once on Aug. 4 and then again Aug. 13, Gregg said; the boy was injured a week later. Visits were required once a month.

The Enquirer has requested public records for the caseworker’s name and personnel file.

The boy’s injuries come on the heels of a troubled period for Hamilton County JFS; five children who were in the agency’s care or had recently been in the agency’s care died since December 2010.

A series of Enquirer stories found the agency was short-staffed and underfunded. This year, county commissioners gave the agency $2 million so it could better care for the county’s abused and neglected children.

Just this week, JFS Director Moira Weir touted improvements and said the agency had already hired 27 caseworkers, now in various stages of training. The hope is they will take caseworker loads from 26 cases per worker now to 18 cases per worker, giving workers more time to look out for children.

No family, so boy placed with friend

The toddler’s case dates to June, when his mom, Taquila Sims, 27, was arrested on a charge of child endangering. A Cincinnati police officer said she was drunk and not supervising her children.

That arrest prompted Job and Family Services intervention. When no family could be found to care for the boy, Sims suggested Enzenbacher, court records show; it’s not clear what their relationship is.

JFS agreed to the placement. Sims would later be convicted and sentenced to a year of probation, court records show.

Before placing the toddler with Enzenbacher, JFS caseworkers ensured she passed a background check and made sure her home was safe, Gregg said. The toddler was placed with Enzenbacher July 10.

“At the time of placement, Mr. Walton was not identified by Ms. Enzenbacher as someone living in her home,” court records said.

Sims was also unaware Walton lived there.

An Enquirer check of Walton’s criminal history showed he served a six-year prison term for aggravated robbery and was convicted on a 2005 domestic violence charge stemming from his choking a woman until she passed out.

On Monday, Cincinnati firefighters responded to a 911 call reporting the toddler was having trouble breathing. Paramedics arrived to find the boy in cardiac arrest.

Before Enzenbacher’s confession that she witnessed the toddler being beaten, both she and Walton tried to tell police they didn’t know what was wrong, according to court records.

Court records said Enzenbacher and Walton told police that the boy woke up at about 10:30 a.m. Monday and was “lethargic and unable to stand.” Walton added that when he tried to pick the boy up, his eyes rolled back into his head and “he was moaning,” the records said.

Job and Family Services has filed paperwork to take temporary custody of Enzenbacher’s 9-year-old daughter. She cannot live with her father because of prior domestic violence charges, court records show.

 

Irvington man charged with hitting foster child in head with frying pan


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You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips. -- Oliver Goldsmith

 

Irvington man charged with hitting foster child in head with frying pan

IRVINGTON — An Irvington man has been arrested after smashing a frying pan over his 15-year-old foster daughter’s head earlier this month, police said.

Keith Watts, 56, was charged with aggravated assault and domestic violence in the Aug. 16 attack, according to Irvington Police Director Joseph Santiago. The victim also told investigators her foster parents often prevented her from making contact with the outside world by restricting her access to phones, Santiago said.

The girl has been removed from the Watts family’s custody, according to Santiago, pending the outcome of a criminal investigation and an internal probe by the state Department of Children and Families.

Police became aware of the alleged attack when the girl managed to make contact with her biological father on Aug. 17. Irvington police met with the victim and her father, whose identities are being withheld to protect the girl, and she told investigators she was "horseplaying" with Watts when he hit her with the frying pan.

The girl suffered a "large contusion" on her head, and was taken to Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark for treatment, Santiago said.

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office was unable to provide any updates on Watts’ case, and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

There are hundreds of foster parent abuse complaints filed each year, according to Children and Families, but few cases of abuse and neglect against foster parents are ever proved.

In 2010, less than 1 percent of abuse and neglect cases involving foster children were substantiated, according to the June monitoring report by Center for the Study of Social Policy, a nonprofit organization evaluating the court-order overhaul of New Jersey’s child-welfare system.

Foster Care Class-Action Lawsuit


 
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Virtue means doing the right thing, in relation to the right person, at the right time, to the right extent, in the right manner, and for the right purpose.  Thus, to give money away is quite a simple task, but for the act to be virtuous, the donor must give to the right person, for the right purpose, in the right amount, in the right manner, and at the right time.-- Aristotle


 Foster Care Class-Action Lawsuit

By Radio Boston Staff August 23, 2012

Is the foster care system in Massachusetts broken? A child welfare advocacy group says yes – profoundly broken.

The group Children’s Rights released a new wave of reports claiming abuse, neglect and inadequate organizational support within the Massachusetts foster care system.

The group also filed a class-action suit against the state in 2010. The case is currently pending in Springfield Federal Court and set to go to trial next January.

 

Children’s Rights: Thousands of young lives endangered due to lack of oversight within child welfare agency

 

(Boston, MA) — A massive review of Massachusetts foster care shows that nearly one in five children who have been in state care for at least two years have suffered confirmed abuse or neglect — all while in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families (DCF), according to one of five reports issued by independent child welfare policy experts and released today by national advocacy group Children’s Rights and local counsel.

“Far too many children in Massachusetts remain at risk of maltreatment even after they enter the protection of the state’s child welfare system,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, founder and executive director of Children’s Rights. “These new reports further underscore the critical need to overhaul DCF as it fails to meet its moral and legal duty to keep kids in foster care safe from further harm.”

A report that reviewed case files of more than 480 children shows that DCF is failing to meet its own policies and performance targets. The findings are consistent with federal studies that rank Massachusetts among the bottom 10 child welfare systems in the United States when it comes to ensuring children are safe in foster care and have stable placements.

Additional reports issued today examined the day-to-day performance of DCF. These in-depth studies show that the state’s foster care system is harming children as a result of systemic dysfunction in several key areas:

           DCF social workers are not consistently making required monthly visits to children, violating DCF policy and federal standards. DCF workers fail to make more than a quarter of the monthly visits to children required under federal law and DCF’s own policies.

           More than 25 percent of approved foster homes do not receive required annual reassessments or license renewals in a timely manner, and nearly 15 percent of new kin placements do not receive timely home studies to assure safety.

           DCF has not developed an adequate contract monitoring system to supervise and assess the performance of private child placement agencies or private institutional living facilities despite the fact the state refers approximately 60 percent of children in foster care to such placements.

           DCF is among the bottom 10 systems in the nation when it comes to keeping children in stable placements; and studies conducted in 2011 reveal that children in state custody are shuffled between foster homes at extremely high rates. Two named plaintiffs had more than 20 placements and three others had between eight and 12 placements.

           The agency falls in the bottom third of foster care systems in the country when it comes to finding permanent homes for children in a timely manner.

           Among a sample of children who entered care sometime between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010, more than 18 percent who were reunified with their parents reentered DCF care due to repeat abuse or neglect.

           Among a sample of children in care more than two years, more than 50 percent were administered one or more psychotropic medications.

“DCF prescribes powerful psychotropic drugs to foster kids while it has not even developed a system to monitor the medical records of children in state care,” said Lowry. “This is just one example of how a lack of oversight within the agency is endangering thousands of young lives while DCF management continues to defend its dysfunctional child welfare system.”

The five experts who conducted the studies have extensive backgrounds in their respective fields of child welfare policy, social work, organizational management and child and adolescent psychiatry. Their independent reports include:

           A Management Report analyzing DCF operations that finds structural deficiencies across many key areas. The report is authored by Cathy Crabtree, who served for eight years as Assistant Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and two and a half years as Associate Commissioner for the Alabama Department of Mental Health.

           A Review of Named Plaintiffs’ Case Files which studies five of the six named plaintiff children and finds that DCF fails to meet minimum practice standards. The report is authored by Lenette Azzi-Lessing, MSW, Ph.D, a professor of social work at Wheelock College. Dr. Azzi-Lessing was a social work practitioner for nearly 30 years in Rhode Island.

           A Psychiatric Report finding that DCF fails to adequately monitor the administration of powerful psychotropic medication to children entrusted to its care. It is authored by Christopher Bellonci, MD, a professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and the senior psychiatric consultant at the Walker Home and School in Massachusetts.

           A Safety Review of the DCF safety net finding holes in the agency’s performance on special investigations, licensing, contract monitoring and related safety practices and authored by Arburta Jones, former Executive Director of the Division of Central Operations in the New Jersey Department of Children and Families from 2006 to 2008 and Chief of Staff of the New Jersey Office of the Child Advocate from 2003 to 2006.

           A Case Record Review assessing the files of 484 randomly drawn child case files, finding that DCF fails to meet legal, regulatory, and policy standards across a variety of case practice areas. The study is conducted by the Children’s Research Center, a non-profit social research organization and a division of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Children’s Rights, with Boston law firm Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP, filed the lawsuit known as Connor B. v. Patrick in April 2010, charging DCF with failing to meet constitutional requirements and its legal duty to ensure the safety and well-being of children in its custody by routinely placing them in dangerous and unstable situations once removed from their parents’ care.

The lawsuit asserts that children in Massachusetts suffer abuse in foster care and bounce from one foster home or institution to another at alarming rates. Also, a high percentage languish in foster care for years, and ultimately age out of the system without permanent families or the skills needed to live as independent adults. The lawsuit links these problems to DCF’s failure to effectively manage its workforce, resources, and practices.

On January 4, 2011, U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor rejected Massachusetts officials’ efforts to block abused and neglected children’s access to federal court by denying a motion to dismiss the federal case. Less than two months later, the judge ruled that the lawsuit may proceed as a class action on behalf of the approximately 7,500 abused and neglected children in state custody. A trial is set for January 21, 2013.

The lawsuit filed in 2010 named six children as plaintiffs to represent the class who at the time ranged in ages from 9 to 15 years old and shared a history of harm in DCF custody. They included:

           Nine-year-old Connor B., who suffered sexual abuse as DCF shuffled him between seven different foster homes in three years. Connor struggles with severe mental, behavioral, and emotional challenges as a result.

           Adam S., 15 years old, who was severely beaten in a residential treatment facility. DCF failed to provide him with a permanent family and gave him no preparation for living independently as an adult.

           Camila R., 13 years old, who was separated from her two sisters and returned to her abusive mother, has lived in at least 11 different placements while in foster care. DCF denied her vital educational and mental health services.

           Fifteen-year-old Andre S., who has been legally free for adoption for over 10 years and spent seven of 12 years in the state’s care in a residential facility rather than a foster placement or relative’s home.

           Seth T., 13 years old, was bounced between five foster placements in his first sixteen months in foster care. DCF has effectively cut Seth’s ties with his family, arranged visits with his brothers only a few times a year and never properly explored the possibility of placing him with relatives.

           Fifteen-year-old Rakeem D., was not only immediately separated from his three siblings, but also denied the opportunity to live with relatives who may have been able to care for him. As DCF has moved Rakeem through at least eight different foster and group homes, his education and behavioral health has suffered.

           Suit: State neglecting foster kids

           Watchdog group claims system beset with ‘significant problems’

           By Matt Stout

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - Updated 4 days ago

           E-mail  Print  (29) Comments   Text size  Share

           A national watchdog group suing the Patrick administration over what it’s calling a broken foster care system is set to file an avalanche of evidence today it says proves the Bay State is rife with neglected and abused kids, overloaded case workers and unchecked officials calling the shots, the Herald has learned.

           “There’s no sense of priority in getting results for children,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights, the New York-based child advocacy group that brought the suit against Gov. Deval Patrick, the Department of Children and Families, and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services in April 2010. It’s set to go to trial in January.

           “It’s partly the high case loads, and it’s partly the lack of accountability,” Lowry said. “There’s significant problems.”

           The filing — expected to be delivered today to the Attorney General’s Office, which is defending the state — includes hundreds of pages of expert analysis and a review of more than 480 foster care cases, Lowry said.

           The case is being heard in Springfield federal court and names six plaintiffs, all children the group says “shared a history of harm” while in state custody, including one boy who was sexually abused by another teen living in his foster home.

           Among the filing’s highlights, according to Children’s Rights:

           • Massachusetts ranks eighth worst in the country in children abused and neglected while in foster care, according to state data provided to the feds.

           • The Bay State consistently shuffles kids between foster homes, some as many as five or more times, making it eighth worst, too, among reporting states on “placement stability.”

           • Officials routinely allow children to flounder in state care before they are adopted, putting Massachusetts in the bottom third of reporting states.

           • Roughly 15 percent, or one in six children, reunited with their family after being put in foster care ultimately return because of continued abuse or neglect.

           State officials said they’re “confident” that they’re protecting children in their care, and that while Children’s Rights have successfully sued at least eight other states — and have two other open cases, according to Lowry — Massachusetts is the first to bring the suit to trial, said DCF Commissioner Angelo McClain, also named in the suit with Secretary JudyAnn Bigby.

           “We have confidence our child welfare system is functioning well,” he said.

           When Children’s Rights first filed the suit, it said each child welfare worker handled anywhere from 22 to 27 families.

           But McClain said since the state overhauled its system in 2008, it’s made progress, including in keeping average case loads at a 16-to-1 ratio in the past 36 months, though he admitted there may be staffers who exceed the contracted 18-case limit.

           He acknowledged that the state is slower than the national average in finding adoptive homes for foster kids. But he said the state has improved in keeping kids from bouncing from foster home to foster home, noting that 79 percent make fewer than two moves in a 12-month span, up from 73 percent in 2008.

           As far as comparing abuse rates, McClain said states often operate on varying standards.

 

 

Advocacy group submits scathing review of state’s foster care system

A children’s advocacy group has issued a series of scathing reports on Massachusetts’ foster care system, contending that nearly one in five children in state custody for at least two years has suffered abuse or neglect.

Children’s Rights released the reports Thursday as part of a federal class-action lawsuit it brought against the state’s child welfare system in 2010.

It asserts that children are mistreated at a high rate under state care, often bounce from one foster home to the next, and sometimes stay in the foster system for years. Approximately one in six who are reunited with their families return to foster care after further abuse or neglect, the group says.

In several reports submitted by child welfare specialists, the group said the state’s Department of Children and Families is plagued by dysfunction, low staffing, and lax oversight.

“Far too many children in Massachusetts remain at risk of maltreatment even after they enter the protection of the state’s child welfare system,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, who directs Children’s Rights. “These new reports further underscore the critical need to overhaul DCF as it fails to meet its moral and legal duty to keep kids in foster care safe from further harm.”

The Department of Children and Families defended its performance, saying it “remains confident in our case management practices as we work to protect children from abuse and neglect.”

The agency said it was prepared to take the case to trial, unlike other states that Children’s Rights had taken legal action against. It said the group’s reports were not independent assessments but part of the legal discovery process.

“We will not be commenting on specific allegations at this time, and expect the full evidence at trial to show that the Department meets its obligations under the law to protect children from abuse and neglect,” the agency said in a statement.

Children’s Rights, however, said that federal data show that Massachusetts since 2006 has consistently ranked in the bottom tier of state welfare systems on several standard measures, such as keeping children in stable homes and finding permanent homes in a timely manner.

“The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families is failing the children it serves,” one review stated. “Rather than providing a safe harbor for children who have suffered abuse and neglect in their family homes, DCF too often places children at risk of additional harm and instability, and too often fails to provide for children’s basic physical and emotional needs.”

The group also found that more than 25 percent of the time, agency’s social workers fail to make required monthly visits to children. More than 25 percent of approved foster homes do not receive required annual assessments.

Among a sample of children who entered foster care between July 2009 and July 2010, more than 18 percent who were reunited with their parents were again removed from the home because they were abused or neglected.

The trial is scheduled to begin in January.

Man assaults victim in foster care


 

Stay positive:

Children need models rather than critics.-- Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French Philosopher
 


GEORGETOWN, SC (WMBF) Police in Georgetown have made an arrest in an alleged sexual assault and are asking anyone with information to speak up.

An initial report was filed on May 15 concerning the victim in foster care at the residence of 48-year-old Calvin Lee Kinloch of Georgetown.

The incident report from Georgetown Police indicates the 16-year-old teen girl may have been in drug withdrawal when the crime was reported. She claims that Kinloch bought her a pack of cigarettes and then forced himself on her.

After the alleged incident, the teen contacted a family member, who told police the teen had a history of incorrigibility and could be very manipulative when she wanted to come back home.

Following an ongoing investigation Kinloch was arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct. Kinloch surrendered to authorities on Friday, August 17. He was later released on a $40,000 bond.

The Georgetown Police Department is asking the public to come forward with any information about this incident by contacting Sgt. Keith Small at 843-545-4300.

 

 

Beaverton foster parent faces new allegations


 

HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) — New charges have been filed against an Oregon foster parent who was convicted of sex abuse.

James Coonrod of Beaverton was initially charged in 2010. He is serving a five-year prison sentence at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office says detectives have since received complaints from four additional females who say they were raped or sexually abused by Coonrod when they lived in his home.

The alleged abuse occurred between 1994 and 2007, and the girls were all younger than 10.

The new charges include rape, sex abuse and unlawful sexual penetration.

If convicted, Coonrod's prison sentence could be lengthened by decades.

 

 

Foster dad pleads not guilty in Solano County


Following an earlier order to stand trial on charges of murder and felony child abuse related to the death of an infant in 2010, a Suisun City foster father pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in Solano County Superior Court.

After a four-day probable-cause hearing last month, Judge E. Bradley Nelson ruled that there was sufficient evidence to order Reginald Tanubagijo to stand trial in relation to the death of a 3-month-old boy in his care that he had named Buddy. On Wednesday, Tanubagijo entered his not guilty pleas to both counts and a jury trial date was set for Oct. 10.

The proceedings focused heavily on testimony from medical experts who opined that the baby's injuries were not consistent with an accidental fall.

A Suisun City police officer responded to Tanubagijo's Youngstown Lane home on Nov. 29, 2010, after hearing a medical dispatch for a baby choking on milk. After performing CPR, medical personnel transported the baby to NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield, where a CT scan revealed a possible head injury.

Buddy was transported to Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland the following day and died after being taken off life support a week later.

Two experts called to testify by prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Terry Ray noted that the severe retinal hemorrhaging that doctors observed in the child's eyes was consistent with abusive head trauma, formerly known as shaken baby syndrome.

However, Tanubagijo's defense counsel,

Martinez criminal defense attorney Jaye Ryan, stated that Tanubagijo was feeding the baby, who was in a Boppy chair -- a cushioned support seat -- placed on top of a table when his foot accidentally stepped on a portion of the tablecloth, sending the chair and child tumbling to the tile floor.

Ryan indicated she may file motions to exclude certain scientific evidence at trial that is not the result of a theory that has "general acceptance" in the scientific community. She spent a considerable amount of time during the probable-cause hearing quizzing the prosecution's experts on their knowledge of the evolving theories surrounding shaken baby syndrome and confronted experts with research to suggest that many "short fall" deaths have been misclassified as "shaken baby" deaths over the years.

On Wednesday, Nelson also took up the issue of Tanubagijo's ability to pay for his attorney. Nelson found that Tanubagijo was eligible for a court-appointed attorney, however, both the Solano County Public Defender and Conflict Defender office's indicated that they could not represent him.

Nelson ultimately appointed Ryan to continue to represent Tanubagijo.

He remains out of custody after posting $800,000 bond.

 

Former Aloha foster parent serving prison sentence charged with new sex crimes


 

 

Former Aloha foster parent serving prison sentence charged with new sex crimes

A man serving a five-year prison sentence for sex crimes has been accused of sexually abusing four girls while they were staying at his Aloha foster home several years ago, the Washington County Sheriff's Office reported. And detectives believe there could be more victims.

James Coonrod, 63, who is serving his time at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution, was first arrested on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse in October 2010, said Sgt. Bob Ray, a sheriff's office spokesman. At the time, investigators believed the abuse, which involved another foster child, was an isolated incident, Ray said, and the sheriff's office did not release information about that arrest.

 Coonrod in February 2011 pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted first-degree sexual abuse, according to court records.

Since last August, four additional girls told detectives that Coonrod either raped or sexually abused them at the foster home, Ray said. Between 1994 and 2009, Coonrod and his wife, Ray said, operated a foster home, located in the 17000 block of Southwest Hurrell Lane near Beaverton. During that time, dozens of children reportedly lived at the home.

 Ray said investigators believe the abuse occurred at the foster home between 1994 and 2007, when the girls were 4 to 8 years old.

 A Washington County grand jury last month indicted Coonrod on three counts of first-degree rape, three counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of first-degree unlawful sexual penetration, Ray said. Coonrod has not yet been arraigned on the charges. All of the offenses are Measure 11 crimes that have mandatory minimum sentences that range from more than six years to more than eight years in prison.

 

 

 

 

 

Fresno foster mother charged in child's death




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The ability to concentrate and to use time well is everything.-- Lee Iococca
 
Fresno foster mother charged in child's death

The Fresno woman charged with killing her 1-month-old foster child two years ago was known to be having problems in her home prior to her daughter's death.

Just days before foster parent Jovannee Reynolds took her daughter to the hospital, where the infant died of shaken-baby syndrome, a county social worker had visited Reynolds' apartment and found her second foster child, a 3-year-old boy, badly bruised, according to records obtained by The Bee.

Follow-up county and police reports suggest that Reynolds may have abused the boy.

The boy and the baby girl remained in Reynolds' home, however, until three days after the visit -- when the girl was hospitalized because of alleged abuse by the mother, the records show.

While no one is blaming county social workers for not doing more to curtail the abuse, Mikayla's ensuing death and the events preceding it are posing questions for a foster-care system that has seen problems in the past.

Today Reynolds, now 25, is scheduled to appear in court to answer to charges of assaulting and murdering her infant foster child, Mikayla Tabin. Reynolds also is charged with abusing her foster son, whose name is withheld in county documents because of his age.

County Supervisor Henry Perea, after learning that social workers had observed problems in Reynolds' home before Mikayla was hospitalized, said he would seek a complete accounting of the actions of the county Department of Social Services, which runs the local foster-care system.

"It's always a tragedy when we lose a child in our community," Perea said. "The county needs to sit down and see how we can increase our checks and balances to make sure children are protected."

The Department of Social Services declined to comment on the case. Reynolds' attorney did not return phone calls from The Bee.

The visit by social workers to Reynolds' home shortly before Mikayla's death is revealed in Mikayla's case files requested by The Bee under open-records laws.

On Sept. 10, 2010, at least one social worker visited Reynolds' central Fresno apartment, where she lived with her husband, Randall Reynolds. The social worker observed bruises on her foster son's face, forearms and back, according to the records.

Reynolds admitted to physically restraining her foster son, the records show, to prevent him from "self-injury," which may mean the bruises were self-inflicted. The report on the visit provides little explanation.

But a follow-up report, completed by the Department of Social Services nine months later, cites the bruises as evidence in alleging that Reynolds abused both children.

The boy was removed from Reynolds' care just after Mikayla was hospitalized on Sept. 13, 2010, according to police reports.

Mikayla was taken to Children's Hospital Central California when Reynolds recognized that her child was having trouble breathing, the records show.

Mikayla died Sept. 20. Investigators later concluded that the cause of death was shaken-baby syndrome, a condition associated with brain damage from violent shaking.

Reynolds was arrested March 17, 2011. Her husband was not arrested nor charged with a crime. Reynolds, if convicted, faces at least 25 years in prison. The couple's foster care license has been revoked.

The couple, who had no children of their own, were new to the foster care system, applying to be foster parents in April 2010 and licensed in July, according to the records.

Their first foster child, the 3-year-old boy, was placed with them Aug. 9, 2010, the records show. Another child, whose name and age is not identified, was placed with the couple Aug. 20 but returned to family members a few days later.

Mikayla, who was born Aug. 25, arrived at the couple's home at 5 days old, according to the records. Her biological mother had tested positive for methamphetamines and had a long history of drug use, the records show.

The nearly two-year delay in the court proceedings against Reynolds is due to a long criminal investigation and scheduling conflicts of attorneys. She has been free on bail.

The preliminary hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. today.

Mikayla's plight is not isolated. Shortly before Mikayla's death another girl suffered brain damage while in foster care, a case that ended with a county settlement of $325,000 for negligence, according to county officials.

Two years earlier another foster child died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. The coroner's office ruled the death a natural death, but the biological parents suspected foul play.

Social services managers have long said they employ strict checks of foster parents to ensure child safety. They also have said that finding enough qualified parents can be challenging





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We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.-- Norman MacFinan
 
Fresno hearing delayed in death of foster child

A preliminary court hearing for Jovannee Reynolds, the Fresno woman accused of killing her 1-month-old foster child, was postponed from Friday to next week. No reason was given for the continuance, which adds to the nearly two-year delay in prosecuting Reynolds. Reynolds, now 25, is charged with assaulting and murdering Mikayla Tabin in September 2010. She reportedly took Mikayla, who had been in her care just five days, to the hospital after Mikalya stopped breathing. The infant died days later, and investigators attributed the death to shaken-baby syndrome. Reynolds also is charged with abusing her 3-year-old foster son. She has pleaded not guilty on all counts. The preliminary hearing was rescheduled for Thursday.


Clinton Township foster dad charged with downloading child porn


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He who smiles rather than rages is always the stronger.-- Japanese proverb

 Clinton Township foster dad charged with downloading child porn

A Clinton Township man stands accused in U.S. District Court of receiving and possessing child pornography.

David Joseph Kiluk, a foster parent and fourth-grade teacher at George Washington Academy in Mount Clemens, was charged in federal court after federal investigators allegedly found 55 pornographic videos and photos involving children on his home computer.

An FBI task force officer began investigating Kiluk on July 12 after receiving a lead from a Secret Service member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Team, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. The complaint said investigation by the FBI and Secret Service showed that Kiluk allegedly used a software program to publicly download and share photos and videos of children online.

On July 25, an FBI investigator and New Baltimore Police Department detective went to Kiluk’s Clinton Township house to question with him about the matter, but Kiluk turned them away, according to the complaint. At the time, they reportedly saw a boy inside the house. Investigators returned to the house later that same day with a search warrant.

Kiluk told investigators that the boy was his 8-year-old foster child, who had been living with him for more than two weeks, the FBI agent wrote in the complaint. The child had a learning impairment and could not tell investigators his name, the complaint added.

Children Protective Services removed the boy from the home.

Kiluk also said that he had two other foster children live with him for five months in 2010.

The complaint said Kiluk allegedly admitted to downloading the pornographic images of minors on his computer.

However, he said he had never inappropriately touched any child, including his foster children, and had no sexually abusive images of any child he personally knew were on his computer, according to the complaint.

Kiluk had worked as a teacher for Mount Clemens Community Schools from August 2000 until the end of this past school year, when he was placed on layoff because of budget cuts, said Phil Easter, assistant superintendent of human resources for Mount Clemens Community Schools, in a July 31 interview.

Easter said Mount Clemens Community Schools did launch an internal investigation, part of which was to ensure that no students from the school district were involved in any way.

Before starting at George Washington Academy, Kiluk had previously worked in another elementary school program and at a junior high school within the district.

Easter added that in his own 12 years with the school district, there have not been any criminal complaints about Kiluk from students or parents.

He said that the school district also would be in communication with parents, and assured that it will do everything it can to preserve the students’ safety.

The school district also is cooperating with police authorities in trying to develop a complete picture of the facts, Easter said.

“Once we know what the circumstances are, then we’ll take appropriate action here on our end to make sure the safety of the children is preserved. That’s completely apart from whatever the police and the courts might do,” he added.