Foster mother pleads guilty in accidental death of 8-month-old


A foster mother in northwest Arizona has agreed to a plea deal in the accidental drowning death of a 8-month-old boy.Elizabeth Dawn Stone, 32, and her fiance had been caring for David Whatahomigie for about three months before his September 2011 death when the 3 year old was taking a bath when Stone left them unattended for three to five minutes to take a phone call. The baby was pulled from the water and rushed to Kingman Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office investigated the accidental drowning in the community of Valle Vista, about 15 miles north of Kingman. Reports indicate the infant, who suffered symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome. Stone’s deal requires probation and up to one year in the county jail when she is sentenced Dec. 6 for negligent homicide.

Foster mother pleads guilty to child abuse

PHOENIX -- A former foster parent in Phoenix has pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse.

Alma Holland, 56, and her husband were arrested in Oct. 2012.

Steven Holland, 53, is accused of sexual conduct with a minor, furnishing obscene material to a minor, child molestation, sexual abuse and unlawful videotaping.

Alma Holland was accused of failing to report the crimes.

In September 2011, a 4-year-old boy told his daycare that he was molested by his foster parent, Steven Holland. The information was reported to the Phoenix Police Department and Child Protective Services.

Detectives began an investigation into the allegation but said there was insufficient evidence at the time to make an arrest.

Shortly after the initial disclosure by the boy, detectives learned of another victim and began a thorough investigation into the number of children under the couple's care while they were foster parents.

Over the last 12 months, detectives identified seven victims of various crimes. Martos said some of the victims were special needs children.





Man found guilty in death of infant foster daughter

A Mendocino County jury Monday found a Fort Bragg man guilty in the beating death of his infant foster daughter, who’d suffered dozens of bruises as well as skull fractures and brain injuries.
After a short deliberation Monday morning the jury announced by 10:30 a.m. they’d convicted Wilson “Josh” Lee Tubbs III, 39, of causing great bodily injury leading to the death of 5-month-old Emerald Herriot, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office.

The man has no criminal history and now faces a possible prison sentence of 25-years to life.
If Judge John Behnke gives the full sentence, it will be the same as if Tubbs had been convicted of murder, said Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira.

The District Attorney’s Office charged Tubbs with felony child abuse causing death instead of a murder charge because of the potential for a similar prison sentence while avoiding some of the complications of a murder trial, including the need to show intent and implied malice, said Sequeira in a release issued after the verdict was announced.

The charge filed against Tubbs was established by legislation in the 1990s to help with difficult prosecutions of people believed to have killed a child through abuse, Sequiera said.

Tubbs told the jury he’d loved the baby girl and hadn’t hurt her in any way. He also said he’d earlier lied when he told detectives he’d shaken and slapped her because he thought that’s what the detectives wanted to hear.

Sequeira presented the case against Tubbs. He told the jury that Tubbs’ changing explanations didn’t add up, including his final version that she’d suffered her injuries from a short fall from a bench.
The baby had more than 50 bruises on her face and head, two skull fractures, massive bleeding in her brain and bruises to an arm and her chest, according to testimony.

Testimony from physicians for the prosecution said that such a minor fall couldn’t have caused the injuries.
Testimony also included that some of the injuries apparently occurred earlier in the child’s short life.
Tubbs and his wife, Marte Tubbs, had been caring for the baby — the child of a relative — for about a month prior to her death.

She was flown to Children’s Hospital in Oakland on Dec. 2, 2012 after Tubbs brought her to Mendocino Coast District Hospital in Fort Bragg.

judge to investigate 1988 drowning of foster child

JEFFERSON, Wisconsin — A Jefferson County judge is holding a hearing to determine if criminal charges could be filed in a 1988 death previously attributed to accidental drowning.

Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Weston decided to conduct the proceedings into Artis Echoles' death.

The boy's mother, Carmin White, says there were conflicting investigation reports. In one report, three children said they saw a man holding the 8-year-old's head under water to make him swim.
The boy, who was afraid of water, was vacationing with his foster family.

Foster care agency accused of fraud to pay $1M


A foster care placement agency will pay the state $1 million under terms of a settlement it reached with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, according to state officials.
The state alleged Community Care Resources Inc., of Middleton, overcharged taxpayers about $6 million between 2009 and 2011 and used some of the money for luxury cars, trips and excessive salaries for its owner, Dan Simon and his wife, Mary Simon, who also worked at CCR.

CCR had contracts with 37 Wisconsin counties to place foster children in licensed homes and provide services to them and the families. CCR had asked an administrative law judge to dismiss the case earlier this year, claiming the state made numerous errors in coming up with its $6 million figure. The agency's license was revoked in February, but it continued to operate while it appealed the revocation.

Foster care agency accused of fraud to pay $1M


A foster care placement agency will pay the state $1 million under terms of a settlement it reached with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, according to state officials.
The state alleged Community Care Resources Inc., of Middleton, overcharged taxpayers about $6 million between 2009 and 2011 and used some of the money for luxury cars, trips and excessive salaries for its owner, Dan Simon and his wife, Mary Simon, who also worked at CCR.

CCR had contracts with 37 Wisconsin counties to place foster children in licensed homes and provide services to them and the families. CCR had asked an administrative law judge to dismiss the case earlier this year, claiming the state made numerous errors in coming up with its $6 million figure. The agency's license was revoked in February, but it continued to operate while it appealed the revocation.

Woman charged with having sex with 13-year-old boy


A 43-year-old Hokah woman accused of having intercourse with and performing oral sex multiple times on a 13-year-old boy was charged Tuesday with third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Pamela Ann Fahy also resigned Tuesday from the La Crescent-Hokah School District, where she worked as a paraprofessional for nearly six years, and had two children removed from her foster home.
Fahy worked with special-needs students in preschool and elementary school grades. There have been no reports of any wrongdoing with the children she worked with, Wilke said.
Fahy was arrested Sunday after a man returned to his Winona County residence and saw her run out of his son’s bedroom naked from the waist down, according to court documents filed Tuesday in Winona County District Court.
During a 20-minute discussion with Fahy and the boy, the two admitted they had been having sex when he discovered them, at which point the man notified law enforcement, according to court records.
The boy subsequently told Winona County Sheriff’s Department investigators he and Fahy had been having sex for months in multiple locations in Winona and Wabasha counties, and Fahy also admitted to the behavior to investigators, according to court records.
Fahy was released Tuesday on $20,000 conditional bond and her next court appearance was set for later this month. If convicted, she could face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and $30,000 in fines.
The sheriff’s department referred a first-degree charge of criminal sexual conduct on Sunday; the Winona County Attorney’s Office revised it Tuesday to the third-degree charge






State penalty will cost foster agency



A private company that finds homes for foster children could lose tens of thousands of dollars in the coming months as it tries to resolve a pattern of problems state officials say put children in danger. The Department of Family and Protective Services stopped placing children with Texas Mentor late last month because of violations in its foster homes such as inappropriate punishments and poor supervision. The state also pointed to troubles in a home where a 2-year-old foster child died in July.

Federal judge rules in favor of Massachusetts in foster care lawsuit


BOSTON — A federal judge has ruled in favor of Massachusetts in a lawsuit filed by a child advocacy group that alleged thousands of children in the state’s foster care system were being abused and neglected.
A judge ruled Monday against Children’s Rights, a New York-based group that alleged in a 2010 lawsuit that the state Department of Children and Families had violated the constitutional rights of children by placing them in unstable and sometimes dangerous situations.
Olga Roche, the acting commissioner of the agency, said the ruling reflects the work the state has done in recent years to expand kinship placements, increase adoptions, enhance foster care supports and lower caseloads for staff.
“This ruling is not only a victory for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but also for the children and families we serve,” Roche said in a statement.
A lawyer for Children’s Rights said the group is disappointed but hopes the state will act to improve problems.
“We brought the suit because there were several well-documented and well-known failings within the system,” said Sara Bartosz, lead counsel for Children’s Rights. “We thought it important to not only shine a really bright light on those issues, but to ask for the protection of the court to make sure these were remedied.”
She cited excessive caseloads for social workers, the need for improvements in training programs for staff and a lack of appropriate placements leading to children being put in numerous foster homes.
U.S. District Judge William Young issued the order and said he would release his written opinion later.





Additional files released in case of accused child sex abuser



The Alaska Office of Children's Services released more foster-care files of Marilyn and Peter Tony. This summer Peter Tony, 69, was charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse of a minor involving children left in his care -- one through an unlicensed day care he operated, the other a foster child he and his wife cared for in 1998.
Tony's stepdaughter, Kimberley Hahn Bruesch, has spoken openly about the abuse she and her sisters faced under his care stretching back to the 1970s, though those instances fall outside Alaska statute of limitations laws.
The Office of Children's Services, the arm of the state Department of Health and Social Services that oversees foster care in Alaska, has come under scrutiny for its handling of the case.
The original foster care files, released in July under a Freedom of Information Act request from Alaska Dispatch, referenced at least five allegations of abuse against Tony during his time as a foster parent, though only one was found to be substantiated. The release of 76 additional pages – which consists mostly of requests for the Tonys to take in more foster children than their license allowed -- makes two mentions of possible abuse. One memo from 1995 and another from 1992 referenced an allegation of abuse “approximately 10-12 years ago.” Both of those cases were noted in the original file release.
Marilyn and Peter Tony were licensed foster care providers in Bethel from 1984 to 1998. The license was abruptly terminated following a “substantiated” allegation of abuse in 1998, though no charges were filed until this year.


Peter Tony’s stepdaughter speaks out about abuse
by Angela Denning-Barnes on July 8, 2013



Kimberley Bruesch now lives in Ketchikan.

Peter Tony, age 69, is in jail in Bethel awaiting court proceedings for multiple charges of child sexual abuse. Meanwhile, his case keeps growing. It’s evolving from two sides: the past and the present; a 48-year-old alleged victim and a four-year-old alleged victim. Kimberley Bruesch is Peter Tony’s step daughter who says he abused her when she was 8. She says her abuse lasted for about a year but the aftermath went on for decades.
She says it wasn’t debilitating, at least at the time. Tony would climb into her bed and fondle her.
“I kind of imagined maybe this is what Daddy’s do with their little girls,” Bruesch says. “It wasn’t violent, there weren’t threats involved or anything. And it made me uncomfortable and I tried to squirm away and pretend I was asleep and get between the mattress and the wall but it was not particular traumatic at the time.”
The stress manifested itself in other ways. She started having nervous behaviors. She clawed and picked at her skin until it bled.
For Bruesch, the statute of limitations has run out to press charges but she says she doesn’t want anyone else to suffer the same way.
“I started pursuing this case in earnest,” Bruesch says. “Trying to figure out how I could get someone in authority to care enough to look over the records and connect the dots.”

Through her own investigation, she’s discovering that there could be other victims. A former foster child accused Tony of abuse leading to the revocation of his foster care license in 1998. Later, Bruesch’s mother, Marilyn Tony, ran a daycare out of her home. Bruesch has reached out to those parents and connected to the 4-year-old’s family who is now pressing charges.
For Bruesch though, help didn’t come for years. She never told anyone about the abuse until she was 15. Her mom, Marilyn Tony, confronted her step dad but he denied it. Her mother suggested the three talk about it together which Breusch refused to do. The same year, she moved out of the house to live with her boyfriend. She was married by 17.
At that same time, Bruesch’s younger sister came forward, accusing Tony of abuse. Their mom took both teenagers to the Division of Family and Youth Services where they were interviewed by a social worker, Mary Atchak, (formerly Mary Abruska). Nothing happened, there was no follow up, and Bruesch just pushed it all aside again.
“It also left me feeling that the abuse I reported must not be very serious,” Bruesch says. “You know, I wasn’t actually raped.”
Reports have recently surfaced in other media that the social worker had been romantically involved with Peter Tony but they have not been confirmed.
Bruesch was also silenced for years by the unexpected response from her husband.
“He was very angry with me for reporting the abuse,” Bruesch says, “so much so that he punched a hole in the living room wall.”
That relationship lasted for 18 years during which time Bruesch was estranged from her family.


Kimberley and her two sisters, Robin and Teresa. Photo courtesy of Kimberley Bruesch

Meanwhile, the Tony sisters were dealing with the aftermath of their abuse. Both Robin and Teresa committed suicide as adults.
The extent of her sisters’ abuse only became clear to Bruesch this past year when she found Teresa’s suicide note. It told of the abuse and asked for justice. With the support from her brother Doug Tony, Bruesch has been going after that.
“I’m wanting to come public with my story because I’m really hoping that more victims will be able to come forward,” Bruesch says. “More victims of Peter Tony, in particular, in this case and just more victims of this crime in general.”
Bruesch says she feels totally healed. She’s come to terms with Tony’s abuse and her sisters’ suicides.
“I have forgiven him, I don’t hate him,” Bruesch says. “I think it would have been wonderful if he could have been exposed years earlier and gotten help for his problem.”
She doesn’t know how many victims there could be. Bethel police say they could go back to the 1970s. What Bruesch says she does know is that the time has come for the heavy burden of shame to be lifted off their shoulders and carried by their abuser.


Foster mom sentenced for putting bleach in 20-month-old’s diapers


Patricia Ann Moore, 68,the South San Francisco foster mom accused of burning her then-20-month-old ward with bleach-soaked diapers must complete a year of child abuse treatment and is banned from future care of foster children.
 Moore was also put on three years of supervised probation and given a 20-day jail sentence but the term was suspended which means she’ll only serve time if she commits a violation.
Moore pleaded no contest in August to misdemeanor child endangerment with the caveat she not serve any time. The question was whether she would be ordered to undergo any type of child abuse program.
Prosecutors were satisfied with the outcome.
South San Francisco police first arrested Moore in August 2010 after hospital staff tending to the toddler alerted authorities that the child had first- and second-degree burns on her buttocks. According to prosecutors, Moore later told authorities she used bleach-soaked diapers to clean the child who soiled herself quite often. After Moore’s adult daughter brought the girl to the South San Francisco Kaiser Medical Center for care, doctors allegedly noted the burns were in a waffle pattern like that of diaper fabric. Moore allegedly also could not explain why, if the girl had been bathed, she didn’t have burns on other parts of her body that would have been submerged, such as her legs.