Wrongful-death suit filed against DSS, foster parent in Charleston infant’s death

Former DSS Director Lillian Koller

Former DSS Director Lillian Koller

By all accounts, the birth of Aiden Dean Clark was nothing short of miraculous.

His mother, wheelchair-bound from spina bifida, had miscarried three times before Aiden was born July 7, 2011.

The hopeful beginnings of new life in the family came to an abrupt end less than two weeks later after state social workers removed him from his parents' Charleston home.

They had placed Aiden with a foster mother after allegations of abuse surfaced against his father shortly after the baby's birth. Aiden died 15 days later.

Aiden's parents stood by the then-brain dead infant at Medical University Hospital as doctors turned off the machines keeping him alive. His father held Aiden's tiny foot as the baby took his final breaths.

Ellen Babb, an attorney for the family, said this didn't have to happen. A wrongful death lawsuit she filed last week in Charleston County alleges Aiden essentially suffocated after the foster mother left him alone in a sweater box instead of a crib.

The suit is the latest in a string of setbacks for the beleaguered state Department of Social Services, which has been the subject of widespread criticism regarding its practices and child deaths that have occurred on its watch.

Former DSS Director Lillian Koller and the foster mother, Jennie Downard, 71, of North Charleston, are both named as defendants in the suit. Aiden's parents weren't identified in the court documents.

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said she can't say whether the baby died as a result of the foster mother's actions. A lengthy and thorough investigation conducted by her office failed to determine a manner or cause of death, she said.

"Whatever Ellen Babb alleged in her complaint is what she believes to be the case," Wooten said. "It's not necessarily based in fact."

No criminal charges were filed in the case, North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor said.

"As a result of our investigation at the time, there was no evidence presented to show any intentional and harmful acts, nor was there any probable cause to lead to criminal charges in this incident," Pryor said.

DSS spokeswoman Marilyn Matheus would not speak directly to the allegations in the suit, but she defended the decision to remove Aiden from the parents' home.

Read More at: Wrongful-death suit filed against DSS, foster parent in Charleston infant's death

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Immunity for Guardian Ad Litem destroys Connecticut family – Part 2

Skipp_family_photo_s640x427WASHINGTON, DC, March 1, 2013 - In Connecticut, the phrase “for the sake of the children” is often thrown around on custody cases involving child victims of violent crimes.  However, cases like 9-year old Max Liberti’s suggest that some family court appointees are more likely to favor the opportunity to continue billing families for unnecessary, even fraudulent services, over what is best for the child.

After all, children living in safe environments do not need Guardian Ad Litems (GAL), evaluations, or therapy to protect and rehabilitate them.  When Max disclosed that his father raped him, the GAL and other professionals charged his family a whopping total of $1.5 million for their services. Yet most of the 40+ professionals assigned to his case spent little or no time with Max, or did not know him at all before making recommendations that forever severed his relationship with his mother.

Often the court appoints a GAL to advocate for the child’s “best interests” instead of asking the children for direct input. The GAL then bills the parents for asking other strangers appointed onto the case what’s best for the children.

In 2003, the Connecticut court decided that the GAL has the exclusive right to speak on the child’s behalf, yet there are no requirements as to how much time a GAL must spend with their ward.  To clarify the GAL’s role, the court drew the bright line rule that “Just as it is not normally the province of the attorney to testify, it is not the province of the guardian ad litem to file briefs with the court.” (In re Tayquon H., 821 A.2d 796 [Conn. Ct. App. 2003]).

While the Judicial Branch provides free certification trainings[1] for GAL’s, there is no central oversight process in place to review the quality of their work, yet they enjoy qualified immunity for their actions.[2]

What exactly is the Judicial Branch training GAL’s to do?

GUARDIAN AD WHO? THE SKIPP-TITTLE CHILDREN

When Susan Skipp’s daughter Gabrielle truthfully disclosed[3] that her father assaulted her family, Susan was ordered to use the majority of her income to pay the fees of various court appointed professionals she could not afford. Attorney Mary Brigham was appointed as the children’s GAL, and Dr. Kreiger[4] and Dr. Horowitz [5] were appointed to assess the family and provide them with therapy. A court issued an order forbidding Susan from speaking to the children about the litigation, seeking domestic violence support for them, or “disparaging” the father who allegedly assaulted them.

As GAL, Brigham billed the children’s home at a rate of $300 per hour to represent the children’s wishes and best interests. Billing records show that between September 2010 and November 2011, she billed over 196 hours, including only five meetings with the children.[6] It’s impossible to tell whether the children met with Brigham alone, how long these meetings were, or what was said.

Invoices show during this period, Brigham’s time was largely spent talking to other providers who barely knew the children or recently met them, emailing unnamed parties, speaking to Dr. Tittle and his attorney, and talking about billing matters. Susan was also charged for the time Brigham spent drafting, filing, and successfully prosecuting motions, including as many as three motions she personally filed seeking to hold Susan in contempt for nonpayment of GAL fees. Susan says that last July, Judge Robert Resha held her in contempt, then threatened to incarcerate her if she refused to immediately liquidate her teacher’s retirement pension to pay Brigham $20,000 in fees.

Susan also saw Horowitz and Kreiger’s unorthodox billing practices as red flags that made her doubt the legitimacy of the appointments.

My divorce agreement states that the parents will see Dr. Krieger for parent counseling. Instead, Dr. Krieger drafted up an agreement for co-parent mediation,” says Susan. This was improper she says, because “Mediation is a legal service that is not covered by health insurance and must be court ordered.”

Susan says that Kreiger charged Aetna for treatment, despite the fact that she was required to provide him with a $2,500 retainer and pay expenses out of pocket.  She questioned whether Dr. Kreiger was billing for treatments that were unnecessary or improperly performed.

Dr. Krieger also performed psychological evaluations on the family,” Susan says. “Those need to be ordered by the court too, and were outside the scope of his appointment as a counselor.” Susan adds that one such evaluation had flawed results because it was done against medical advice immediately after her car exploded, leaving her hospitalized with head injuries.

When Susan requested copies of the records and bills, then questioned Dr. Horowitz and Dr. Krieger’s refusal to address the assaults or the father’s struggles with addiction and the law with the children, both providers recused themselves from the case.[7] [8]  However, Brigham then asserted privilege on the children’s behalf, thereby prohibiting Susan from obtaining documentation from either provider.[9]

“While Kreiger and Horowitz testified in trial that there was no domestic abuse, they both used domestic violence codes when billing Aetna,” says Susan.  Dr. Horowitz testified that he used one medical chart for 2 children, used the wrong billing codes with the insurance company, then failed to inform the parents and the GAL that he had diagnosed the children with serious mental disorders.[10]

Brigham decided it was “not in the children’s best interests” to have them testify at trial.

“ARE YOU HERE TO SAVE US?”

Once when their father refused to pick his children up for three days of parenting time, I had the pleasure of meeting Susan’s children. The children seemed traumatized not only by the violent crimes perpetrated against them, but also by the fickle will of the courts to intervene on a moment’s notice and upend their lives without including them in these decisions. Given their isolation and the infrequent, yet intensely hostile interactions between Brigham and the children, it was no wonder they sought answers from me the moment their mother left the room.

“Are you here to save us?” Gabby asked. “Someone has got to help mom stop my father. We are afraid because he hurts us.”

“No honey,” I told them, “I’m just a journalist, I can’t save anyone.”

They begged me “Please write something to make Mary Brigham listen so the court will not make us live with my father.”

My heart was heavy because they too felt the inevitable, that darkness was coming for them, and they knew they were helpless to stop it.

With Judge Munro’s trial decision not yet issued, in September 2012 Dr. Tittle sought to permanently sever all of Susan’s parenting rights and access to the children. Judge Gerard Adelman heard testimony that the children refused to visit with Dr. Tittle for the stated reason that they feared for their safety. When Brigham refused to talk to them about these concerns, the children refused to get in the car with her. Brigham told the children she was unconcerned, then demanded they get in the car so she could bring them to Dr. Tittle’s [which they did not do.]  Consequently, Judge Adelman granted Dr. Tittle’s motion for sole custody with the caveat that the court would permanently terminate all of Susan’s parenting rights if she were even 5 minutes late for any future visits.

One week later, I attended the hearing on Dr. Tittle’s second motion to terminate Susan’s parental rights.  Judge Munro called Judge Adelman’s orders “draconian,” then criticized Brigham’s role in instigating the proceedings by acting outside the scope of her appointment as Dr. Tittle’s “taxi driver.” As we left the courtroom, Brigham informed me that she had filed her affidavit of fees a month ago. Subsequently, neither I nor the court staff were able to locate Brigham’s affidavit.

Ultimately, Judge Munro awarded Dr. Tittle sole custody of the children, then constructed a “set-up-to fail” parenting plan that effectively terminated Susan’s access to the children. Susan retains the right [on paper] to purchase a few hours per week with her children at Visitation Solutions, Inc.,[11] which is affiliated[12] with Horowitz and Krieger, and located over an hour away from the home she and her children once shared.

Judge Munro denied Susan’s request for alimony, then awarded Brigham $70,000 in fees, despite the fact that Brigham never filed an affidavit disclosing her billing. After Judge Munro recused herself from hearing Susan’s case, Brigham’s subsequent motions to garnish Susan’s wages were denied pending the outcome of Susan’s appeal.[13]

Since October 2012, Susan filed for bankruptcy and has not been able to afford to purchase time with her children. Dr. Tittle[14] has refused to allow the children any contact with their mother, and remains on criminal probation for driving under the influence, reckless driving, and evading responsibility (leaving the scene of an accident.)[15]

Brigham has scheduled a status conference for April 4th to discuss payment of her fees, garnishment of Susan’s assets and tax returns.

Who’s best interests have been served?

IS THERE A COMMON DENOMENATOR?

Horowitz and Dr. Kenneth Robson often conduct the court’s “free” GAL certification trainings together with Judge Munro.  Court records show that when Dr. Kenneth Robson[16] and Horowitz[17] are involved and the State is paying, the parents are often ordered not to communicate with their children about the trauma they experience. The GAL exclusively communicates directly with Horowitz about the children’s care, and only the GAL will speak to the children about the litigation.

“One of the core issues is the qualified immunity GAL’s enjoy, which results in much of the judicial outsourcing to them,” says advocate Peter Szymonik. He points out that a major reason why parents cannot even find relief from excessive GAL fees in bankruptcy is that the court categorizes it as child support, which is nondischargable. “This leads to excessive and unnecessarily billings which permanently financially devastate parents.”

While Szymonik says the system is biased against parents, Journalist Keith Harmon Snow has documented over 70 CT cases[18] where fathers who committed legal offenses, have gained custody of child victims. The mothers were often required to purchase parenting time through outrageously expensive, even corrupt supervised visitation providers, who extorted them out of relationships with their children. Now permanently destroyed and bankrupted by abusive, often deadly State sponsored litigation, these families have no recourse.

“GALs are, in fact, paid by judges even ahead of child support,” says Szymonik. This translates into a multi-million dollar fraud and state sponsored corruption which is financial devastating families and parents, harming children, and fleecing taxpayers.”

To additional documentation related this journalist’s investigative report on the Connecticut courts:  http://www.scribd.com/JournalistABC

REFERENCES:

(1)        2-22-2011 Transcript re: Liberti v. Liberti:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126529767/Liberti-v-Liberti-Transcript-of-2-22-2011-Hearing

(2)        CT Resource Group Contract With CT Judiciary re: Court Staff Education:

(3)        CT Resource Group Court Invoices Part 1:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/125725460/Connecticut-Court-Billing-Invoices-Part-1-Dr-Howard-M-Krieger-and-Dr-Sidney-S-Horowitz

(4)        CT Resources Group Court Invoices Part 2:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/125730381/CT-Court-Billing-Invoices-Part-2-Dr-Howard-M-Krieger-and-Dr-Sidney-S-Horowitz

(5)        Dr. Horowitz’s Testimony re: Medical Billing Irregularities (Tittle v. Tittle):

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126272714/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-Testimony-re-Medical-Billing-Irregularities-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp

(6)        Dr. Horowitz’s Bills re: Boyne v. Boyne:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126239188/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-s-Billing-Records-PART-3-Boyne-v-Boyne

(7)        Dr. Kreiger’s Documentation re: Tittle v. Tittle:

(8)        GAL Mary Brigham’s Invoices re: Tittle v. Tittle:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/125759601/Attorney-Mary-Brigham-s-Billing-on-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp-Case-Middletown-CT-FA10-4022922-S

(9)        Maureen Murphy’s billing re: Liberti v. Liberti:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126246491/GAL-Maureen-Murphy-s-bills-re-Liberti-v-Liberti-Guardian-ad-Who

(10)      N.J. Sarno’s Billing re: Liberti v. Liberti:

(11)      Dr. Robson’s Court Invoices:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/122480531/Dr-Kenneth-Robson-s-payment-records-obtained-from-the-CT-Judicial-Branch

(11)      Dr. Robson’s Billing re Liberti v. Liberti:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126252311/Dr-Kenneth-Robson-s-Bills-re-Liberti-v-Liberti

 


[1] http://www.jud.ct.gov/external/news/AMC_GAL_Training_Poster.pdf

[2] http://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/rpt/2013-R-0098.htm

[3] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126588063/Skipp-Kreiger-Documents

[4] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126588063/Skipp-Kreiger-Documents

[5] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126272714/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-Testimony-re-Medical-Billing-Irregularities-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp

[6] http://www.scribd.com/doc/125759601/Attorney-Mary-Brigham-s-Billing-on-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp-Case-Middletown-CT-FA10-4022922-S

[7] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126272714/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-Testimony-re-Medical-Billing-Irregularities-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp

[8] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126588063/Skipp-Kreiger-Documents

[9] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126588063/Skipp-Kreiger-Documents

[10] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126272714/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-Testimony-re-Medical-Billing-Irregularities-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp

[11] http://visitationsolutions.com

[12] http://www.collaborativedivorceteamct.com

[13] http://civilinquiry.jud.ct.gov/CaseDetail/PublicCaseDetail.aspx?DocketNo=UWYFA104022992S

[14] http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Danbury-man-charged-with-DUI-

[15] http://www.jud2.ct.gov/crdockets/CaseDetail.aspx?source=Pending&Key=371c238b-8016-481a-ab71-61ede4040160

[16] http://www.scribd.com/doc/122480531/Dr-Kenneth-Robson-s-payment-records-obtained-from-the-CT-Judicial-Branch

[17] http://www.scribd.com/doc/125730381/CT-Court-Billing-Invoices-Part-2-Dr-Howard-M-Krieger-and-Dr-Sidney-S-Horowitz

[18] http://www.consciousbeingalliance.com/2013/01/summary-of-connecticut-court-judicial-abuse-cases-january-2013/

Finding Ground Zero in Connecticut – Part 1

max_s640x427WASHINGTON, DC, February 28, 2013 - Last year, I visited the home that Sunny Kelley used to share with her 9-year old son Max. Located off a dirt road in the woods of Bethany, Connecticut, outside waits Max’s loyal husky Guinevere, who used to sleep beside him back when they all lived together in this old 18th century schoolhouse. Until recently, Judge Lynda B. Munro, who issued the orders severing Max’s relationship with his beloved mom, lived on the same road. Sunny said they would often pass each other while walking their dogs.

Sunny welcomes me into her home, offers me a cup of tea, then shows me Max’s room. In 2010, Max began to believe his room was haunted.  Although Max has not lived with his mom in over a year, his toys remain exactly where he stopped playing with them the last time he was home. There’s a robot thunder dome arena, science experiments, books, Star Wars figures, his rock collection, his coin collection, his Man Wallet full of coins mixed with $2 bills and foreign cash. The gerbils died, but the mazes, tunnels, and castles that they raced through lay vacant on Max’s desk.

The dining room table where Max once ate is no longer a place for communing over a meal, it has become sacred ground where his mother fights important battles to protect her clan’s only heir. Time has stopped in this room full of papers, a virtual igloo of data which document what happened to Max in the family courts. We begin to sift through pleadings, medical reports, and bills, all interspersed with notes and pictures that Max himself has crafted to tell us what has been done to him.  Max could not have understood how or why he had been sold out, but the love notes to his mom on his work demonstrated that he wanted his mother to know he never left her willingly.  That the last time Max saw his Mother, he knew the love he felt from Sunny was real, that he guarded his truths with his life where no torturer could destroy it.

There are still many dragons to be slayed before the war is over and Max can come home.

THE MONEY TRAIL

Understand that when you are sued, you cannot opt out of participating in the legal process, nor can you take your business with the law elsewhere. When Max reported to authorities that his father had raped him, the Judge Munro awarded sole custody of him to his father. Suddenly, Max went from living with his mother full time, to seeing his mother a few hours a week in supervised visitation run by strangers armed with clipboards, then no contact at all.

$1.5 million in litigation fees later, the invoices show that Max himself was probably a stranger to the professionals paid to decide his fate. Perhaps the bills can tell us what Max could not.

In 2010, the court appointed Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Attorney Maureen Murphy to represent Max’s best interests and wishes. Murphy billed at a rate of $300 per hour, collecting over $100,000 in fees from Max’s home,[1] yet I cannot confirm by looking exclusively at the invoices whether Murphy ever met Max in person.  While Max’s name is referenced on the RE: line on the first page of each bill, Max’s time with Murphy is never clearly referenced in the bills.  According to the invoices, Murphy’s time was largely spent reviewing court documents, talking to the visitation supervisor and other court affiliated professionals–but never with Max alone.

Per the court order, Max’s time with his mother was supervised by NJ Sarno, Inc., who billed Max’s mother $105,000 over the course of 16 months.[2]   According to court documents, NJ Sarno is owned by Trumbull police detective James DeSanty and Nicholas J. Sicinolfi (also known as “Nick Sarno”). [3] In 2004, Sarno filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Town of Trumbull relative to his supervised visitation business. (See Nicolas Sicinolfi v. Town of Trumbull, 3:03-cv-00929-AWT) On December 5, 2004, the Town of Trumbull filed a motion to dismiss[4] stating multiple examples of where Sarno had been untruthful in his business dealings with the State. Sicinolfi allegedly lied on a pistol permit application by failing to list his alias (“Nick Sarno”), then boasted false experience handling guns in the armed forces, when in reality he had never served in the military.

Court transcripts[5] show that from 2010-2011, NJ Sarno, Inc. and Sunny took Max to the ER during visits when he arrived from his father’s with burns, cuts, and bruises on his body, abdominal pains, fever, anal fissures, an infected penis, urinary tract infections, and experiencing a psychotic break.  The supervisor also called Max’s father, who rushed to the hospital to deny any wrongdoing, then filed a motion to end all of Max’s parenting time with his mother.

In February 2011, Judge Munro decided[6] that Sunny was to have no rights to either access Max’s medical records or to seek medical attention for Max. Although the supervisor was a former sanitation worker with no special medical training or knowledge, NJ Sarno alone retained the right to decide Max’s medical care during visits.  Sunny and Max were ordered not to sit together in the car, forbidden to speak about Max’s about life with his father, his medical needs, or any litigation matters. GAL Murphy’s bills do not evidence any meetings with Max around this time.

Instead of asking Max directly what was happening to him, Judge Munro ignored 2 recent psychiatric evaluations and appointed Dr. Kenneth Robson to evaluate Max’s situation.  Robson billed the family at a rate of $350 per hour for a total of $17,163 over the course of 2 months,[7] then appointed other evaluators onto the case at Sunny’s expense.  While Robson never interviewed Max alone, the majority of his billing time was spent talking to over a dozen adults, some of whom had never met Max. Two meetings between Robson and Max together with each parents took place, however, Sunny says Robson met with her for 1 hour, not the 1.5 he billed her for. Dr. Robson’s testimony in favor of placing Max with his father can be found here.[8]

The time Murphy billed for conversations she allegedly had with Robson and others was not reflected in their corresponding billing invoices. [9]   After Sunny received the final judgment, she learned that therapists from Connecticut Resources Group[10], Dr. Howard Krieger[11] and Dr. Sidney Horowitz [12] were involved in her family’s care.

Max himself would never be allowed to tell Judge Munro about the world he had been sentenced to live in, and I cannot tell from the bills whether any of these professionals even asked Max personally what he wanted.  It is unclear to me why Munro decided that so many professionals who did not know him were more credible than Max himself.

Judge Munro concealed her final orders under the title Jane Doe v. John Roe; Max’s name was changed to pseudonym “Peter,” as if Max himself never existed.[13]  Now penniless, Sunny has unable to purchase a single visit with Max in over a year. This involuntarily severed all of Max’s contact with his mother.  GAL Murphy is now a judge, but Max’s new GAL took no steps to preserve or restore Max’s relationship with his beloved mother.

Given that Max had never been injured in his mother’s care, did Max wish he could have invested the millions diverted to court professionals into a safe home for them to live in, or alternatively purchased bodyguards to keep him safe at his father’s?

TRAPPED AT GROUND ZERO

Since the custody battle started, many people have shared this paranormal experience in Max’s room. I asked Sunny why she didn’t move from the home so obviously haunted by Max, if not actual demons?

“This is my ground zero,” Sunny said. “I’m not leaving this house until Max comes home.”

There are perhaps hundreds of parents like Sunny who have been bankrupted through the CT courts, essentially extorted out of a relationship with their children. Recently, journalist Keith Harmon Snow posted on his website a story[14] listing over 70 cases[15] involving mothers who were never found to be dangerous or unfit, but none the less lost custody after their children reported they were physically or sexually assaulted by their fathers. Mothers who continued to seek legal protection or medical treatment for the children’s injuries were ordered to pay supervised visitation centers to see their children.  Many of these cases involve the same judges, as well as Dr. Kreiger, Dr. Horowitz, and Dr. Robson.

Most often located in a no longer needed dining room, these mothers also have ground zeroes in their homes, igloos of papers that tell the story of the children who have been sold. They maintain portable ground zeros, documents stored on their phones, hard drives, USB drives, briefcases of papers that they take with them everywhere. These mothers and their children dream of chance meetings with powerful benevolent strangers capable of using this wreckage to rescue children from the hells they were ordered to live in. Children should not have to wait for the money to dry up in order for the justice system to hear their cries for help.

To see documentation related this journalist’s investigative report on the Connecticut courts:  http://www.scribd.com/JournalistABC


[1] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126246491/GAL-Maureen-Murphy-s-bills-re-Liberti-v-Liberti-Guardian-ad-Who

[2] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126246254/NJ-Sarno-s-Billing-Invoices-Robert-Liberti-v-Sunny-Liberti

[3] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126246254/NJ-Sarno-s-Billing-Invoices-Robert-Liberti-v-Sunny-Liberti

[4] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126246254/NJ-Sarno-s-Billing-Invoices-Robert-Liberti-v-Sunny-Liberti

[5] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126529767/Liberti-v-Liberti-Transcript-of-2-22-2011-Hearing

[6] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126529767/Liberti-v-Liberti-Transcript-of-2-22-2011-Hearing

[7] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126252311/Dr-Kenneth-Robson-s-Bills-re-Liberti-v-Liberti

[8] http://www.scribd.com/doc/97729640/8-26-11-Liberti-v-Liberti

[9] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126246491/GAL-Maureen-Murphy-s-bills-re-Liberti-v-Liberti-Guardian-ad-Who

[10] http://www.connecticutresourcegroup.com/about.htm

[11] http://www.scribd.com/doc/125730381/CT-Court-Billing-Invoices-Part-2-Dr-Howard-M-Krieger-and-Dr-Sidney-S-Horowitz

[12] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126239188/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-s-Billing-Records-PART-3-Boyne-v-Boyne

[13] http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ct-superior-court/1606303.html

[14] “A LIFE SENTENCE : U.S. FAMILY COURTS SACRIFICING MOTHERS & CHILDREN

Family Courts Behind an Epidemic of Pedophilia & Judicial Abuse” Keith Harmon Snow, Conscious Being Alliance 5/1/2012  http://www.consciousbeingalliance.com/2012/05/a-life-sentence-family-courts-sacrificing-mothers-and-children-in-america/

[15] List of cases involving child victims of violent crimes ordered to live with offenders:  http://www.consciousbeingalliance.com/2013/01/summary-of-connecticut-court-judicial-abuse-cases-january-2013/

Goodyear foster father sentenced in child abuse case

GOODYEAR, Ariz. - A Valley foster father accused of severely injuring a 15-month-old girl in October 2013 has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and lifetime probation.

Judge Jeanne Garcia sentenced Pedro Manzo, 36, Friday morning, according to Superior Court of Arizona spokeswoman Karen Arra.

Manzo had previously changed his November plea of not guilty to guilty on two counts of child abuse.

A probable cause complaint revealed the injured girl "kept throwing her sippie cup" so Manzo admitted he "grabbed under her jaw, shook her in a side-to-side motion and applied pressure to her jaw and throat that caused her to pass out."

"Her neck is fractured. She has blood clots," said Rosa Valle, the girl's biological mother, Oct. 30, 2013, two days after the incident. Valle showed pictures of her daughter in a neck brace at the hospital.

Valle said her 15-month-old daughter and 3-year-old son had been abused previously by Manzo, who is their foster father.

Goodyear police arrested Manzo on Oct. 29, 2013 and charged him with child abuse. Though Child Protective Services was not able to comment on the case, Valle provided documents that show Manzo is the foster father of the two children.

"(Manzo) is in jail, and I think he deserves to be in there," said Valle.

Manzo was released from custody just nine hours after being arrested for child abuse.

Valle said she notified CPS on several occasions that she suspected abuse in the home, but said her concerns were not addressed.

"My kid tells me, 'Mommy, mommy Peter (Manzo) hit me. Peter hits me, mommy. Peter don't let me eat,'" Valle said.

Read more at: arizona.newszap.comdt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls

NewsChannel 9 Investigates Foster Child Death

Jennifer Jones is the first to admit the nightmare began with her own mistakes.

"It's the hardest thing I ever went through," said Jones.

Jones has lived a hard life, but it got worse when she left Ellis Weatherspoon, the father of her two children. Last year, she went  to pick-up her kids from a visit with their father. But, as she was leaving, she got into a terrible fight with Weatherspoon.

"I couldn't get up to move or even breathe barely," she said. "He had the knife in his hand and said I was going to die that night."

And she might have died, if her 5-year-old son hadn't interrupted the knife attack.

"He came in screaming. That was my only opportunity to run. As I was running, [Weatherspoon] kept stabbing me from behind. So, all together I had 14 wounds."

Jones ran for her life and left her two children behind.  Weatherspoon set fire to the trailer with the children trapped inside. Elijah and Saharah survived only because Fannin County law enforcement saved them. But, Jennifer Jones would never be their full-time mother again.

DFACS intervened in the name of protecting the children. DFACS placed the children with foster parents, but that foster home was in Catoosa, three counties away from Fannin and Jones had no car. When she did get to see her children, she noticed things.

"Bruises, scratches, at one point a burn on his chest," she said.

Jones tells us she spent her days trying to contact anyone from the state, who could intervene.

"Something is going on in that house there," Jones aid. "Nine different times I know I've told the DHS workers. I've told everyone in contact with the babies."

But, no matter what she did, Jones tells us she was ignored until it was too late. Her two-year-old died on New Year's Day at a hospital in Chattanooga. This is Saharah just before doctors advised Jones to pull the plug. The State of Georgia had determined she was unfit to be Saharah's mother, but her consent was necessary to end Saharah's life.

"They took them from me because of safety and placed them in this home. And now look what happened, were they safe? To me it's the fault of the state. She shouldn't be here. To me they put her in this position," said Jones.

Jones reached out to NewsChannel 9 in March desperate for details and not knowing how to make the machinery of state government respond.

"I just want justice," she said. "Everyone that had a hand should be held responsible for her death."

More than dozen phone calls and emails later, DFACS required NewsChannel 9 to pay $135 for public documents related to Sahara's short life and death.

Read More at: NewsChannel 9 Investigates Foster Child Death

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