Texan in foster kids gift thefts arrested again

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LONGVIEW, Texas (AP) — An East Texas woman on probation after serving time for stealing nearly $20,000 in Christmas gifts meant for foster children has been accused of shoplifting. Gregg County jail records show 48-year-old Sarah Marie Adams of Longview was being held Wednesday on a theft charge. 

The Longview News-Journal (http://bit.ly/1bQzG1m ) reports Adams was arrested Monday and charged with shoplifting $170 worth of items. Online records don't list an attorney for Adams, who's held on $500 bond. Adams last fall was sentenced to eight years in prison for the 2011 Christmas gift thefts, 10 years for burglary of a habitation and two years for burglary of a building. An attorney for Adams later found a mistake in the plea deal's wording and sought a new trial. A judge amended her sentence to probation.

foster parent charged after child found with dead chicken around neck

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - A North Carolina social worker has been charged after her 11-year-old foster child was found chained to the porch of her home with a dead chicken hanging around his neck, a sheriff's official said on Saturday.

Wanda Sue Larson, 57, was arrested and charged with child abuse and false imprisonment on Friday after a deputy found the boy shivering and handcuffed by his ankle to the front porch, the Union County, North Carolina, sheriff's office said.
Larson, a supervisor at the county's social services department, was not home when the child was discovered but is accused of being complicit in the mistreatment, according to sheriff's officials.

Authorities also arrested Dorian Lee Harper, 57, who along with Larson was serving as a foster parent to the child. The couple also has four adopted children.

"It's just shocking," Captain Ronnie Whitaker said on Saturday. "It's just disturbing that anyone would treat a child in such a manner."

It is unclear what prompted the use of the dead chicken and handcuffs on the boy. Whitaker said he could not disclose details from police interviews conducted as part of the investigation.

Larson and Harper remained jailed on Saturday. They each face charges of intentional child abuse that inflicted serious injury, false imprisonment and cruelty to animals, with the latter allegation based on the condition of some of the family pets, the sheriff's office said.

Larson also is charged with willful failure to discharge her duty as a public official.

The five children, ages 14, 13, 11, 9 and 8, have been removed from the home and put in the care of a social services agency outside of Union County, the sheriff's office said.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Eric Beech)

Social worker arrested, child cuffed to porch

MONROE, N.C. — A North Carolina social worker is under arrest after a foster child was found cuffed by the ankle to her front porch with a dead chicken hanging from around his neck.
Wanda Sue Larson and Dorian Lee Harper were arrested Friday after a sheriff's deputy found the shivering 11-year-old boy. Larson is a supervisor with Union County Department of Social Services. The couple, both 57, adopted four children and were serving as foster parents to the fifth child.
Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey called the incident shocking. Harper and Larson are charged with intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, false imprisonment and cruelty to animals. They are in jail awaiting a court appearance set for Monday.

The children, ages 8 to 14, have been removed from the home.

Daycare worker charged with abuse toward foster children

A co-worker at a daycare center turned a Huntsville woman in to authorities on suspicion of child abuse of two of her foster children.
Meghan Hargress was arrested Friday and charged with one count of aggravated child abuse and two counts of torture/willful abuse of a child.

According to Dr. Harry Hobbs with the Huntsville Police Department, Hargress was the foster mother of two girls and a boy. One girl was found to be slightly scalded, possibly from hot water, and the boy had bruises and abrasions on his body.
Hargress is currently in the Metro Jail without bond. Officials said the children are back in the DHR system. No further information has been released

Report says foster children receive too many medications

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One kid called it "the brainwash pill." Some said it made them put on weight or provoked teasing from schoolmates when they were called to the nurse's office.
But for others, it was even worse. One foster child, interviewed by researchers studying how medication is given to children in the Allegheny County system, said the meds the doctors prescribed deadened all feelings, taking away what it means to be a kid.
"I couldn't eat, I couldn't move," the child said. "It was like I was in a full body straitjacket.'

 report prepared for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services shows children in foster care are more than twice as likely to be prescribed psychotropic drugs than the average child receiving county services. According to researchers, a study of 1,850 youths in foster care found 27 percent receive psychotropic medication, compared to just 11 percent of children who receive Medicaid services at home.
Indeed, a small minority of the foster population -- 3 percent, or 58 children -- are on three different medications at once.
"Medication by itself without really good psychotherapy is not a good course," said Walter Smith, DHS's deputy director for the Office of Children, Youth and Families. "For all of us that look at the rates, we need to make sure there are other things happening along with medication."
The study was prepared in part by Community Care Behavioral Health, a nonprofit that serves Medicaid recipients in Allegheny County. Researchers examined the medical records of youth who use Medicaid services, tallying prescriptions for those in foster care against those who live at home.
The report also convened focus groups, bringing together 16 caregivers and eight foster children to hear their stories.
A common complaint among both parents and children: Doctors didn't take the time to explain the plan behind prescriptions, handing over medication with little explanation given about side effects"They are too quick to put kids on meds," one child told county researchers. "Kids are going to act like kids -- especially when they are taken away from their family. ... Of course, a kid is going to act out or be depressed."
Psychotropic medication is generally prescribed to help patients address mental and emotional conditions, all the way from depression to severe mental illnesses. But opponents fear child service agencies are overmedicating their charges, finding pharmaceutical solutions for behavior problems that could be addressed in other ways.
In Allegheny County, the age of children taking medication varies widely. Most are teenagers, but some are far younger. Out of the 496 medicated foster children included in the study, 153 were younger than 12 years old. One child was less than a year old.
The findings are not unique to Allegheny County. In 2011, a national study published in the medical journal "Pediatrics" showed foster children were much more likely to be prescribed anti-psychotic drugs than their peers.
Shortly after, the Government Accountability Office released a report showing children in foster care were 4.5 times more likely to receive psychotropic drugs than children who remained with their families.These figures stuck with James Schuster, Community Care Behavioral Health's chief medical officer and one of the authors of the local report.
"I think, by and large, providers are trying to do a good job and provide good care," he said. "But you want to make sure these are reviewed carefully and that you continue to keep this issue high in the mind of prescribers."
Mr. Smith said his department has worked hard to reduce the number of children put into foster care, cutting placements from more than 3,000. Children that still are kept away from home may have behavioral or mental health issues that make medication more necessary, he said, explaining part of the percentage jump.
The report recommended the county form a local group to address the abundance of prescriptions being given to children in placement, as well prepare educational materials for parents about the effects of psychotropic medication and its alternatives.
Family Division Judge Kathryn M. Hens-Greco, also would like to see additional research done in Allegheny County and beyond, particularly into the types of medications used.
She was one of the judges who raised the issue in Pennsylvania, flashing back to the times she's seen children in the courtroom who were clearly medicated." 'This kid just doesn't look right to me. There's something wrong here,' " she remembers thinking. "This is a bigger problem than just me."

Correction, posted Oct. 25, 2013: Family Division Judge Kathryn M. Hens-Greco's title has been corrected.
Andrew McGill: amcgill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1497.

Increase in foster child deaths prompts safety plan

American-Statesman Staff

The Department of Family and Protective Services today released a safety plan in response to the rising number of foster care deaths.
Between September 2011 and August 2013, the number of foster children who died from abuse or neglect jumped from two to eight. The death of Orion Hamilton, an 11-month old baby fatally injured last week at her aunt’s home in Cedar Park, is the first foster care death attributed to abuse this fiscal year.
Of the eight deaths in 2013, seven were attributed to neglectful supervision and one was abuse related, officials say.
The improvement plan, which has been in the works for months, focuses on children with medical needs, family placements and the responsibilities of both CPS and child placing agencies. New rules include:
  • Issuing quarterly trend reports starting in 2014 on child deaths from abuse and neglect.
  • Limiting the number of medically needy foster children that can be placed in one home.
  • Increasing the number of unannounced visits to all foster homes, including homes where foster children are staying with relatives through what is known as “kinship placements.
  • Update the agency’s kinship placement home studies to ensure that caseworkers are adequately discussing safety issues and recognize risks.
  • For state licensed foster homes, require that caseworkers interview all grown adult children of the foster parent before issuing a license.
  • Holding a statewide training refresher on safety for all CPS foster/adopt staff on Nov. 7.
  • Conduct a contract monitoring audit to assess the process of evaluating performance of foster parents.

The new rules come amid fallout over the death of two foster care children since this summer. In July, 2-year-old Alexandria Hill died after police say her foster mother slammed her head on the floor.

Foster parent charged with sexual offences

An Airdrie man is facing multiple charges in connection with an alleged sexual assault of a youth that was once in his care.
Rodney James Marcynuik, 39, has been charged with sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and sexual exploitation by a person in trust or authority after a man came forward claiming he was sexually abused while in foster care in the home.
He was arrested on Sept. 30.
Members of Calgary Police first heard the complaint in August and it is alleged the offences occurred between June 2003 and November 2008 in both Airdrie and Calgary, while the child lived with the accused.
Police believe 18 foster children, all boys, have lived under the care of Marcynuik and his wife between 2001 and 2010.
Police have not yet spoken with all 18 boys, but the investigation is ongoing.

Del City Dad Accused Of Lewd Acts With Foster Child

By Adrianna Iwasinski

DEL CITY, Oklahoma -
A Del City man is behind bars, accused of performing lewd acts with a young child. What's worse is he was the child's designated foster parent.
The Department of Human Services can't tell us how long this man has been one of their foster parents, but a police report states DHS did get a complaint back in September about some very inappropriate behavior.
That police report states Glenn Ray Auldridge, 55, who lives in this home on Hampton Drive in Del City, committed a lewd indecent act with one of his foster children inside his bedroom, and also in the bathroom. But those who know him say the allegations are preposterous.
"He was a great man, he loved those girls," said a woman who told us he was her uncle through marriage. "There's nothing he would do, he would never harm them."
She says the family does not believe he is guilty of the charges and neither does his neighbor, Levena Scott.
"Just from what I know of him, I can't see him doing it," said Scott.
Scott has lived in the neighborhood more than 40 years, and says Auldridge and his wife have lived across the street from her for more than three years. She says Auldridge has been taking care of his foster children for about a year.
"He would sit down on the front porch, him and his wife, and the girls would come out and play in the front yard. And every time they went to the grocery store they would bring them some kind of toy."
According to court papers, when detectives at the Del City police department questioned Auldridge, he "became belligerent" and "stormed out of the interview".
Scott says he even came to her house and told her what happened.
"It was just killing him and tears were just rolling," said Scott. "He said I don't know where it's coming from. And he said ‘I love them little girls.' And he said ‘I'd never do anything to hurt them.'"

Right now Auldridge is being held in the Oklahoma county jail on half a million dollars bond.

Florida won't pursue murder charge against caretaker of foster child Rilya Wilson

— Prosecutors won't retry a Kendall, Fla., woman already in prison in connection with the murder of Miami foster child Rilya Wilson, who disappeared 13 years ago in a scandal that rocked the state's child welfare agency.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office announced the decision to drop the prosecution Wednesday, nine months after jurorsdeadlocked, 11-1, on the murder charge against Geralyn Graham.
But the 67-year-old woman won't be getting of prison. That same jury found Graham guilty of aggravated child abuse and kidnapping, convictions that carried a 55-year prison term.
Graham is "reported physically ill," according to a state attorney's memo. "The length of her sentence is essentially a life sentence."
Prosecutors believe Graham in December 2000 smothered Rilya with a pillow, disposed of her body in South Miami-Dade, and then spent years telling conflicting versions of what happened to the foster child. The girl's remains have never been found.
Graham and her lover were caretakers for the child, born to a drug-addicted Ohio woman. The case lead to massive reform at Florida's Department of Children and Families, which failed to discover the child was missing for more than a year.
Graham falsely claimed to investigators that a DCF case worker whisked the child away for some sort of mental health treatment, prosecutors say.
She was indicted in 2005 after Miami-Dade police said she confessed in detail to a cellmate that she murdered the child.
The inmate, Robin Lunceford, an eccentric, longtime convict who got a plea deal for her testimony, was one of the star witnesses in the trial. She is now out of prison and on probation.
Graham's ex-lover, Pamela Graham, no relation, also testified during trial that the woman kept Rilya locked in a laundry room, tied her to a bed and used a dog cage to keep the child from climbing on furniture.
Proving the murder count - based on Lunceford's word, plus the testimony of two other prison inmates - was always an uphill battle for prosecutors.
The other two inmates have since told prosecutors they would no longer cooperate against Graham because of harassment within the prison, according to the memo. And Lunceford was recently listed as a defense witness in an unrelated Miami-Dade murder case, giving further ammunition to Graham's defense attorneys who have long attacked her credibility.

"I think the state realized they could never bring those jailhouse snitches before another jury and hope to win," said Graham's defense attorney, Michael Matters. Graham is appealing her conviction.
Prosecutors say, however, they could re-file the murder charge if detectives are able to find Rilya's body.
In Wednesday's memo, prosecutors detailed several recent attempts to find the young girl's remains, including the recent discovery of female child's skull in a lake in Margate.
However, investigators could not extract a usable DNA sample from the skull to match to Rilya's.
"Over the coming years, there may be other glints of information claiming to lead to Rilya's body and they too would be followed up," prosecutors wrote in Wednesday's memo. "This remains a circumstantial case of a homicide without a body."

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/10/30/3286637/florida-wont-pursue-murder-charge.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/10/30/3286637/florida-wont-pursue-murder-charge.html#storylink=cpy

Man accused of assaulting foster child

A man is accused of assaulting his foster child.

Christopher Spann was arrested after his 11-year-old son showed up at an after school program at the Homewood Salvation Army with bruises on his face and body, police said.

“Apparently the incident began last night because he didn’t do his homework over the period of a couple hours," said Jason Lando of Pittsburgh police.

Spann is charged with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment.

The boy has been put in protective custody. 

Peoria foster father admits to being pedophile

A 61-year-old Peoria man was arrested for molesting a foster child over the course of a decade.

The teen victim told a school counselor on Sept. 20, after telling the suspect that she planned to tell someone about the abuse.

After the girl told her foster father, he called family members and friends and admitted to them that he was a pedophile and "didn't know why," according to Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. One of the people receiving the call recorded it and gave it to detectives. After admitting what he had done, he checked himself into a local hospital for mental health issues.
Medical records show he admitted to the hospital staff that he was guilty of molesting a foster child.
He was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on three counts each of molestation of a child, sexual conduct with a minor and sexual abuse.
He is being held without bond.
CBS 5 News is withholding his name to protect the identity of the victim

Goodyear man accused of abusing foster child

PHOENIX - A Goodyear man is in custody for allegedly injuring his 1-year-old foster daughter for throwing her sippy cup and spilling its contents.
Maricopa County prosecutors say 36-year-old Pedro Manzo was arraigned Thursday on one count of child abuse.
He was ordered held on $18,000 bond.
Goodyear police say Manzo returned home on Monday evening with his two biological children and his two foster children.
He told authorities that he later found his foster daughter slumped on the floor and not breathing.
While Manzo was performing CPR, his wife came home and immediately called 911.
While at the hospital, doctors noticed the child had bruises on her head and shoulder.
Police say Manzo allegedly admitted that he grabbed his daughter under her jaw, shook her and caused her to pass out.