Here is a look at the four people who filed a federal lawsuit over Michigan Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect.
The parents say they have lost job opportunities, and been kept away from children's activities because of their status on the registry. They are represented by Jackson attorney Elizabeth Warner, who filed a 40-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
• Tracie Stempien of Kent County, a married mother and grandmother, was living in Montcalm County when a 15-year-old son falsely accused his father of punching him.
Police and CPS workers took two boys from the home before the teen admitted he had lied to police and bit his lip to create an injury.
Stempien found out she was on the list when she lost out on a job training program to become a certified nurse aide.
She was supposed to start training on March 7, 2011. The DHS had put her on the registry two weeks before the program started.
“Without having the (child protective services) file, especially the investigation report and the risk assessment, the plaintiff does not know the accusations, supporting and contradictory evidence, and her risk assessment score,” Warner wrote.
• Deborah Turner of Jackson, a married mother and grandmother, had worked as a secretary for the FBI in Detroit and Head Start in Jackson.
Earlier this year, she was fired from Head Start because she was on the registry.
It stemmed from a family decision in 2010 to return an adopted daughter to the state.
“They did this to protect the family from this violent and emotionally disturbed teen-ager and to get her the mental health care that they could not afford, but that the state refused to provide,” Warner wrote.
A psychiatrist had recommended long-term hospitalization based on the child’s diagnosis and behavior, not a family setting.
Turner and her husband turned the child over to the state when she was 15.
Department of Human Services has since provided residential mental-health treatment, Warner said.
The lawsuit said that a child-protective services worker assessed Turner as a “moderate risk,” which would not qualify her for the registry. The worker then used a “discretionary override option on the risk assessment form,” Warner wrote.
It elevated Turner’s score, and put her on the registry.
Turner filed a written request to Department of Human Services in Jackson County be expunged from the registry. It was denied.
She later requested an expedited hearing because she could lose her job at Head Start. Her appeal papers were not sent to the state for a hearing for 14 months, the lawsuit said.
She lost her job of 17 years at Head Start in February.
• Helen Miller was “one of the most respected foster parents in Calhoun County until she got put on the registry,” Warner said.
Miller and her husband had been foster parents to 100 children over 25 years. They adopted 11, and had an “extraordinary” record of caring for children, the Foster Care Review Board said.
Miller’s trouble came on July 27, 2011, when she allowed two young foster children to stay overnight at her adult daughter’s home.
She didn’t that her daughter’s ex-husband stayed there on occasion. The children were at the home when police conducted a drug raid, and found drugs hidden by the ex-husband, the lawsuit said.
The state removed all five of Miller’s foster children.
The Foster Care Review Board, in response to an investigator’s threat that Miller would be placed on the registry, wrote in a report: “The board has great difficulty in understanding how a self-admitted, one-time error in judgment by Mrs. Miller is deserving of a ‘life sentence’ on Michigan’s Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry.”
After a hearing in Calhoun County Family Court, the two foster children present at the drug raid were returned to Miller. She was cleared of any neglect. Requests to have her record expunged have been denied, however.
“Despite the registry listing, the Calhoun County judiciary has entrusted children to the plaintiff, but DHS will not place any more foster children with her,” Warner wrote.
• Timothy Medley of Jackson, raising stepchildren with his second wife, is a business owner and homeowner who says he is rehabilitated after a prison sentence.
He is trying to gain custody of his two school-aged children who were removed from their mother in 2008 while he was in prison.
In 2009 a judge terminated both parents’ parental rights. A year later, the state Court of Appeals reversed the order at Medley’s request.
Medley asked for the return of the children.
A CPS worker then put him in the Central Registry, citing “failure to protect, mental injury, threatened harm,” court records said.
Medley’s attorney said the allegations could not be current because he hadn’t seen his children since 2006 because he was locked up and they were in foster care.
Medley wants to be removed from the registry so that he can better participate in his children’s lives, act as a chaperone on field trips, and coach their sports teams, his attorney said.
“And he has the stigma of being labeled a ‘child abuser,’ which is worse than being a felon.’”