A slim, pretty and vivacious blonde, Cynthia Duckett charmed everyone she met. To her neighbors, she was a doting mother to her daughter Terrie and her younger son Paul. Along with her partner, Peter Bond-Wonneberger, they seemed to be a wonderfully happy family. Yet beneath the facade, they were falling apart. Peter was meting out savage beatings to Cynthia’s children, and in his thrall, she turned a blind eye. READ MORE HERE
Archive for the ‘True Stories’ Category
College student shares spring break nightmare of kidnapping, rape
MICHIGAN – A student at Michigan State University, who will remain anonymous, went on a spring break trip like many college kids do. But she encountered a horrifying experience — one she is now sharing with others to warn about the dangers of thinking you’re invincible. She was with her friends in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at a club. They decided to go back to the hotel for the night, but she says she couldn’t find her friends so she was going to get a cab by herself. READ MORE HERE
‘Illegitimate son’ of Mr. T filed $5.4 million lawsuit against The A-Team star because he ‘abandoned’ him and caused him to join a gang
A man claiming to be the illegitimate son of Mr. T filed a $5.4 million lawsuit last year claiming that the TV star had abandoned him at a young age causing him to become emotionally unstable and join a gang. In the legal papers, Alexander Taylor, 25, of San Diego, California, claimed that the actor – real name Laurence Tureaud – walked out of his life because ‘he did not fit into Mr. T’s public image.’ According to the June 2013 lawsuit, Taylor ‘was born May 25, 1988 to Vanessa Taylor (mother) and Mr. T (father)’. READ MORE HERE
Country singer, Jimmy Wayne, is on mission against child abuse
The problem of child neglect and abuse is personal for country singer Jimmy Wayne. His mother was in and out of prison, so from age 8, Wayne was in and out of North Carolina’s foster-care system. When he was 13, his mom and her fifth husband abandoned him in a Pensacola, Fla., parking lot. At age 16, he was a homeless high school dropout. An elderly couple took him in — saved him, he says — and he survived. Now he travels the country as an advocate for agencies, programs and policies that help other kids do the same. READ MORE HERE
Who can forget the golden locks of Lucy Ewing? She was the pretty petite blond on the hit series “Dallas” in the 80’s and 90’s. The actress who played the teen Ewing, Charlene Tilton, says found inspiration from her time in foster care. Tilton took time to talk about this dark chapter in her life. She shared it with a teen girl currently in foster care at Doris Bergman’s 6th Annual Valentine and Oscar Style Suite and Lounge at Fig and Olive Restaurant in West Hollywood. She gave Harmony a big hug and words of encouragement. She talked about her own journey of going from foster home to foster home. She describes her mother as severely mentally ill. She remembers deciding as a child that she could never depend on anyone. READ MORE HERE
‘We used to cry and scream he was hurting us, but nothing would stop him’
Two women who were sexually abused as children by their stepfather have spoken out in a bid to help other victims after his crimes went unpunished for nearly two decades. Katie Shortman, 24, and Dellisa Shortman, 25, have bravely spoken out after Paul Ward was jailed for four years when he admitted two counts of indecent assault. Ward, 50, of Sale, Greater Manchester, began abusing his two stepdaughters in the early 90s, when they were aged just five and six. READ MORE HERE
Sitting in his wheelchair beside his parents Tuesday night, Billy Travis flails his arm and lets out a small squeak. Mother Kim Travis immediately responds, checking him and making sure his head is positioned OK, saying something like “Oh I know,” with a cheerful tone. The 7-year-old is likely having a seizure — one of five larger ones he has in an hour and a half — and isn’t registering a word of what Kim has said due to a traumatic brain injury suffered nearly three years ago. Kim and her husband Bob know the outlook for Billy is grim and that he will never respond the way their other children do, but they’re still doing everything they can to keep him comfortable. READ MORE HERE
‘I thought this was how fathers doted on their daughters. But what he did to me in the attic felt different’
Woody Allen’s adopted daughter Dylan Farrow penned an open letter Saturday on a New York Times blog, publicly accusing the controversial filmmaker of sexually assaulting her when she was a young girl. Farrow’s first-person account, which appeared on reporter Nicholas Kritoff’s blog, marks the first time that Miss Farrow, the daughter of actress Mia Farrow, has directly addressed the alleged sex abuse. In gut-wrenching detail, Dylan Farrow wrote in her statement how at age seven, her adoptive father, Allen, allegedly led her by the hand to a dim attic on the second floor of their house. READ MORE HERE
Sunday mornings are filled with praise and worship in church buildings across the South, but when one grandmother began to jingle her keys to leave her home and go to her place of worship there were three little black grandchildren who began to shake with fear and trembling. That’s because Johnnetta McSwain and her sister and male cousin were forced to endure severe child incestand abuse by three older male cousins while their mother’s mother went off to church. And on Jan. 25, in a phone conversation with this past abuse victim, the Atlanta Top News Examiner learned why other children who suffer such abuse ask this question of McSwain when she goes to tell them how she overcame her victimization: How can you believe and talk about God when he allowed this to happen to you and to me? READ MORE HERE
PURCHASE BOOK BELOW:
Forced into marriage at 10, pregnant at 13, widowed by 14
Alemtsahye Gebrekidan was 10 when her childhood came to an abrupt end. ‘I was playing outside and my mum called me inside to the house,’ she remembers of the day her world changed forever. ‘She said “you’re going to marry”. I was surprised and I cried but I didn’t say anything to them [her parents].’ Her wedding, to a boy of 16, took place just two months later. Shocking though it might seem, her experience is by no means unique. According to World Health Organisation figures, 14.2 million girls under the age of 15 are forced into marriage each year. READ MORE HERE
The vital clue is quite innocuous: part of a canoe. But it is enough to secure an arrest, then a conviction – and the safety of two small boys. The canoe features in several photographs, but it is not the focus of the images. On the contrary, it is a seemingly incidental background detail in a series of sickening depictions of child sex abuse. But police child protection expert James Traynor is skilled at spotting the relevance of such clues. READ MORE HERE
‘My father raped me then told me it was better to lose my virginity to him than a random person in a hotel’
A young woman who was raped by her father at the age of 12 has shared her story in the hope it will help other victims of sexual abuse. Gemma Schembri, now 21, from Lincolnshire, revealed her father, Mark, had always been controlling but took his abuse further after he split up with her mother. She said: ‘He started to sexually abuse me when I stayed with him and it went on for over a year. He was very manipulative and controlled my thoughts to make me believe it was normal. ‘The first time he raped me he said afterwards, “Well it was better that it was with me than with some random person in a hotel”.’ Gemma said she didn’t realize what her father was doing was wrong and it took her years to pluck up the courage to reveal she was a victim of abuse. READ MORE HERE
When she fell pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to the convent of Roscrea, Co. Limerick, to be looked after as a ‘fallen woman’ and at the age of three her baby was whisked away and ‘sold’ to America for adoption. Coerced into signing a document promising ‘Never to Seek to Know’ what the Church did with him, she never saw him again. She would spend the next fifty years searching for her son, unaware that he spent his life searching for her.
Philomena’s son, renamed Michael Hess, grew up to be a top lawyer and then a Republican politician in the first Bush administration. But he was also gay and in 1980s Washington being out and proud was not an option. He not only had to conceal not only his sexuality, but, eventually, the fact that he had AIDs. With little time left, he returned to Ireland and the convent in which he was born to plead with the nuns to tell him who his mother was, so that he might see her before he died. They refused.
“The Lost Child of Philomena Lee” is the story of a mother and a son, whose lives were blighted by the forces of hypocrisy on both sides of the Atlantic and of the secrets they were forced to keep. A compelling narrative of human love and loss, Martin Sixsmith’s moving account is both heartbreaking yet ultimately redemptive.
FEATURE NEWS ARTICLE:
Early in 2004, I was approached by a woman who knew I had been a reporter. She said she had a friend who thought I could help her solve a family mystery. I told her that wasn’t my sort of journalism; but she insisted and I went to the meeting. The woman’s friend was called Jane, a financial administrator from St Albans. She was in her late 30s and had been through an emotional experience. Just before Christmas, her mother Philomena, tipsy on festive sherry, had revealed a secret she’d kept for 50 years: she had a son that she had never spoken about to anyone. The reason for the secrecy was that he had been born illegitimate in Ireland at a time when such things were considered shameful and to be hushed up. Jane said her lost brother would be in his early 50s and probably living in the United States. READ MORE HERE
PURCHASE PUBLISHED MEMOIR: The Lost Child Of Philomena Leeby Martin Sixsmith
Film-maker grew up in a sinister cult – and now he’s has made a documentary lifting the lid on his traumatic childhood
For most of us, family means parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and cousins. But for one film-maker, family, for many years, meant a sinister cult. Now Paul-Julien Robert has turned his harrowing experiences into a film, My Fathers, My Mother And Me, which tells the story of the 12 years he spent in the Friedrichshof commune near Vienna. The community he grew up in outwardly espoused free love and communal living. But these hippy ideals hid a very dark truth: in 1991, its leader, Otto Mühl was convicted of child abuse. READ MORE HERE
The rape victim that India forgot
Not far away from where hundreds marched and held candle-lit vigils in memory of a medical student who died after a brutal gang-rape in the capital New Delhi exactly a year ago, the 12-year-old lay in a room, forced to come to terms with her wounds and plight virtually alone. Gang-raped some sixteen months ago and having undergone 19 reconstructive surgeries, there has been little or no outpouring of sympathy and public support for her. “These sixteen months have been the worst in in life. I am dying every single day. My life has been ruined, body violated. The pain is unbearable, but I am yet to get justice,” she says. READ MORE HERE
Dreamcatchers for Abused Children was contacted by a member who asked us to share her story. The details of this particular story are extremely upsetting as nothing, to-date, has been done….
MESSAGE WE RECEIVED:
We ask for your help to find out the truth about what happened to our son when he was abused in the local public elementary school. All of the local organizations, police, Child Protection would not pursue an investigation and in this case, Child Protection actually investigated us. We need some help. My husband lost his job with Texas Instruments six months ago and has not been able to find work in the Dallas area since. We have no idea why all of this is happening. Many unrelated events but not one of them has a positive outcome. Thank you for and assistance or insights you may be able to provide. God Bless.
This happened to my child this past year. It all happened because he did not want to pick up a piece of paper when the teacher ordered him in an inappropriate manner. Our hope is to raise awareness of the mistreatment of our special children. To give parents the courage to ask the hard questions, hold schools and teachers accountable for the actions, abuse, and bullying of these so precious children.
Here is the link to the news story ran by KDFW Fox 4 News in Dallas, Texas:
The hearing officer has ruled we will get the BCBA support, ABA therapy, and everything else his doctors’ state he requires, but not in a safe location, which we required. The hearing officer, for some obscure reason, has decided the best place for our son’s program is back where he was originally physically and emotionally abused.
What follows is an unbelievable story of what our autistic son had to endure while attending his 2nd grade class. This story and the subsequent cover up by multiple government agencies needs to be told. The facts in this story are backed up by surveillance videos and evidence obtained during discovery for special education hearing which just concluded. Maybe the lessons we have learned can help someone in a similar situation better fight for their autistic child’s rights.
On 1 February 2013 we dropped off our son at Prairie Creek Elementary in Richardson, Texas. This elementary school is part of the Richardson Independent School District (RISD or district). We were coming back to the school at 10:00 am that day for a meeting with the school’s principal, our son’s afternoon aide, and another teacher over an unneeded Use of Restraint to which our son was forcibly subjected to on 29 January (the latest Use of Restraint in a very long list of abuse). Unbeknownst to us the district was having one of their “experts,” a behavioral interventionist, Ms. Richard, observe our son in his classroom this day. We were not told of this activity and hence had not prepared our son for this person. Our son, like many autistic children, is quite rigid in the people around to him and his daily schedule.
We arrived at the school for our meeting at approximately 9:50 am and were let into the school before we pushed the buzzer announcing our presence (this is important later on as the school will claim their outside surveillance camera was not working). We begin our meeting on time. At approximately 10:05 am our son became upset and bored with the activity his class was doing in lieu of outside recess (the class had stayed inside this day as it was 35° outside; this is Texas). He crumbled up and threw the paper he was drawing on onto the floor and crawled under a desk. His morning aide was attempting to redirect him back to the activity when the district’s behavioral interventionist intervened. Ms. Richard had arrived at the school at 8:00 am this morning, also unknown to the school’s staff, so by the time they had collected our son’s IEP, which included his Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP), she had less than ten minutes to review the documents, if she did at all, before she went to the classroom.
Immediately Ms. Richard started to get into our son’s face demanding he pick up the paper. Now with two people making demands on our son he became overwhelmed and left the room, which is what he has been taught to do. We suspect our son went to a bench that had been placed outside his classroom but was continually harassed so he headed to the front of the school and went outside of the front door. He immediately sat down on the concrete, facing the door, and placed his feet on both of the doors to prevent someone from opening the doors; our son wanted was to be left alone for a few minutes in order to calm himself back down. Ms. Richard and our son’s aide followed him. In the video evidence we obtained it shows Ms. Richard forcing the door open, the aide holding the door open for about 30 seconds, and eventually Ms. Richard forcibly dragging our son back into the school, her arms wrapped around his upper body. Once back inside our son dropped to the floor in the entryway and Ms. Richard and his aide struggled with him for approximately 8 minutes before dragging, by his wrists, back into the school, down 75 feet of hallway, to a small hallway outside of his classroom. During this struggle the district’s Pearce group special education director, Ms. Penelope Mattson, was standing, laughing and enjoying the show (we have it on video). Ms. Mattson was well aware we were just ten feet down the hallway in a conference room. Instead of coming to get us she just stood there with the school’s secretary while our son was physically abused by Ms. Richard.
As our meeting drew to a close the aide who was at the meeting was dismissed. She went to see how our son was doing and found him in the hallway outside of his classroom pinned to the floor by Ms. Richard. The aide immediately came and got us to help resolve the situation. When we got to the hallway our son was pinned, face down, on the floor under Ms. Richard. She immediately backed away and our son jumped up and went to his mother and he stated, “This woman is hurting me!” We demanded to know what was going on. Our son pulled up his shirt sleeves on his right arm (he had four shirts on that day due to the weather and the fact he does not like to wear a jacket) and his upper right arm was already bruising. By now we had gotten a short version of the events from the morning aide. We asked Ms. Richard, not in the nicest manner because of the circumstances, if she had reviewed our son’s BIP and she emphatically stated, “No, I hadn’t enough time.” We told the principal to remove Ms. Richard from the area and we went to calm our son down on the bench in the hallway.
While we sat on the bench we called 911 and reported the incident. The 911 operator, inquired about the safety of our son, and dispatched officers to the school. At this time we moved with our son to the Resource Classroom in the back of the school. We then spent almost 90 minutes in this classroom waiting for the police to arrive. Eventually we needed to make a telephone call so walked up to the front of the school. To our surprise two officers were already there meeting, or more accurately, being brainwashed by the district’s personnel. Upon the office personnel seeing us the brainwashing meeting immediately broke up and we had a meeting with the two police officers, Matthew Gibbins (assistant director of special education), Luther Robertson (district director of security), and the principal, Kyle Stuard. The officers states they had spoken with the school’s staff and viewed the surveillance video of the incident. We had our son come in and show him the bruising on his upper left arm. It was the officers’ conclusion that the incident was not abusive and the teacher was just defending herself! We were appalled and dismayed. We were so upset that we took our son and left the school.
That evening, when we gave our son his bath, we discovered not only was his upper right arm bruised but also his chest was scratched and bruised along with a very large bruise on his upper left arm. We dutifully took pictures of the bruising. Bear in mind our son had four shirts on this day, two of them heavy sweatshirts. We did make a mistake in our pictures, as we later learned. It is important in pictures of this type to establish two things. First, we should have included our son’s face in the picture so the injuries can be identified with him. Second, was including an object in the picture as a size gauge to the amount of the bruising. In our case some type of coin, i.e. quarter, would have empirically establish the size of the bruising and scratches. As it was already late, approximately 9:00 pm, we decided to take our son to his pediatrician in the morning.
The next morning we went and saw Dr. Lori Seibert, a pediatrician who is a colleague of our regular pediatrician. Dr. Seibert examined our son, and took detailed notes of the extent and severity of the bruising. As this was a Saturday, 2 February, Dr. Seibert said she would contact Child Protective Services (CPS) first thing Monday morning, which she did. We got a note from the doctor excusing our son from school for a couple of days and went home to decide what we were going to do next.
We were already attempting to have the district complete a new Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA) of our son. We had an Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meeting with the school and district, which had went badly. We had reluctantly agreed to allow the school’s psychologist, Anabel Meyers, to complete the FBA (this was Ms. Meyers first year as a school psychologist and we had concerns about her experience). We consulted with our attorney, modified the consent agreement to limit the district’s timeframe to complete the FBA, and gave the district our signed consent on 8 February.
Without our knowledge the district had outsourced the FBA (they also had concerns about Ms. Meyer’s experience) and contacted an autism organization the district had contracted for this school year for assistance. This organization was the Brent Woodall Foundation for Exceptional Children (BWF). The district sent our son’s school records (without our permission) to Carly Waltenburg, director of BWF, and she assigned one of their Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) to observe our son at his elementary school. This observation took place on 13 February. The only information about the FBA we were provided during this time was a one sentence e-mail from the principal on 12 February stating the FBA was starting the next day. The BCBA, Tracy Bender, spent one morning observing our son in his classes. Ms. Bender’s statements in the FBA, and expanded upon during sworn testimony, was she did not observe any aggressive behavior by our son during this time. Eventually, Ms. Bender created the FBA and subsequent BIP based upon data collected by the school district personnel since October 2012. This data, while voluminous, had recording errors especially in the first two weeks in October while the district personnel determined the types of behavioral categories.
After 12 February we had not heard anything about the FBA. We were waiting upon its completion to resume the ARD meeting and discuss its implementation. We made two attempts at reconvening the meeting but were told the FBA was not yet completed. Again, we were unaware that the district had outsourced the FBA to an independent contractor; we finally learned this information when the ARD meeting was reconvened on 25 March.
By the time of the 25 March ARD meeting our son had additional instances where the district had restrained him. District personnel regarded restraint as an effective methodology to teach compliance. Because of these restraints our son came home with bruises on both of his wrists on 22 March. By this time we had decided enough was enough. The district was not willing to listen to experts on how to teach an autistic child, they were not willing to listen to us as parents, they continually physically restrained, they isolated him in a resource classroom away from his friends, our son spent most of his school day playing on an iPad or the school’s computers (our data use on the iPad would sometimes exceed 1GB for a day on an electronic device our son did not use outside of school), and our request for our son’s school records ignored including a request for the videos of the 1 February abuse. Therefore during the ARD meeting, after learning the school had outsourced the completion of the FBA to an independent contractor, we withdrew our son from elementary school. We finished the ARD meeting, by the advice of our attorney, and left the school.
Due to our son’s escalating behavioral issues brought upon by the school’s neglect and inappropriate reinforcement activities our son had started limited ABA services with the Autism Treatment Center in January 2013. He was also attending a weekend Social Skills class taught by Spectrum Autism Services’ this organization also provided us ABA support in our home. Both organizations recognized the damage that had been wrought and diligently helped us to rehabilitate our son. We also brought our son to the Autism Center at UT_-Southwestern Medical Center to have him reevaluated and seek advice on the best methods to help him undo all of the mental damage caused by the school.
We originally had our son evaluated at the Autism Center two years ago in 2011. At that time the psychologists and psychiatrists there recommended he receive pragmatic social skills, speech, occupational therapy, and be taught with a 1:1 aide in an inclusive setting. His development was almost age appropriate in all areas with the exception of pragmatic social skills; his academic skills were very advanced. During the visit in 2013 our sons challenging behaviors had become so bad the Autism Center’s doctors viewed him as having regressed to an age level of 3-4 years old. Many of the tests they were unable to complete because of the behavior. With the input from the BCBAs with the Autism Treatment Center and Spectrum Autism Services the Autism Center recommended a program of intensive ABA therapy and schooling in a very small group setting until our son would once again reach the behavioral levels he was at previously. We had also received this recommendation, independently, from the doctors and educators at the Autism Treatment Center.
While we were going through the evaluative process at the Autism Center we attempted to find a private school for our son. We took him to two different schools that serve autistic children. Neither school would accept him due to his challenging behaviors as they did not have the staff or resources.
We did not have the resources for the intensive ABA program and our health insurance through my former employer, Texas Instruments, specifically did not cover anything related to autism. Consequently, we have had to work with the low level ABA therapy provided by Autism Treatment Center and Spectrum Autism Services assisted with the knowledge we have gained and applied over the years. Our son is getting better, but it is a long and slow road back until he is what he once was before our making the mistake of enrolling him in the Richardson Independent School District.
Unfortunately, this is only part of the story, concerned with the actions of the school district. The investigation into the 1 February incident also has resulted in amazing events. Here is that story.
CPS Case #42649157 History
Child Protective Services in Texas is part of the Department of Family and Protective Services. They have many offices located all across the state and their primary role is to ensure children and families are brought up in a safe environment. This organization has broad powers and very little oversight. Hence when they make mistakes, deliberately or otherwise, there is no other government organization or court to hold them accountable. Unfortunately CPS has made some noteworthy and newsworthy mistakes in recent years but even more unfortunate it has not changed their internal culture at all.
On 1 February 2013 our 7 year old autistic son was severely bruised, emotionally traumatized, dragged through the hallways of his elementary school, and had his basic rights as a human being was stomped upon by Eve Richard, a Behavioral Interventionist, with the Richardson ISD in Richardson, Texas. The following events detail an unbelievable tragedy of justice and to this day no one has been held responsible to what happened to our son.
On the day of the physical abuse at the Prairie Creek Elementary School we, the parents, were at the school for a meeting. When one of our son’s afternoon teachers, initially was at the meeting with us, came and got us the abusive event was near its conclusion. We immediately had the school’s principal remove Ms. Richard from being near to our son, brought him to a quieter location, and called 911. The local Richardson Police Department sent two officers to the school. These officers were intercepted by school district personnel and were told only one side of the story. Neither of the officers ever attempted to determine the welfare of the child. After waiting for about 90 minutes we went to the front of the school to make a telephone call and the officers were still meeting with the district’s people. We then had a meeting with them were one of the officers stated “There was no abuse, the teacher was just defending herself.” This is outrageous. Where does a teacher need to defend herself justify bruising our child and treating him in such a despicable manner?
Later that evening when we gave our child his bath we realized how bad the bruising really was. It was across both of his upper arms and chest. We then took our child to see Dr. Seibert, a colleague of our normal pediatrician. Dr. Seibert, the following Monday morning, reported the incident to Child Protective Services.
This initial contact by Child Protective Services by a Ms. Eunice Mata determined nothing had happened after making a call to the school’s principal and closed the case. The victim’s mother was in contact with Disability Rights of Texas and they also made a report to CPS. The case was then reopened and assigned to a Dale Walton in the CPS Dallas Stemmons Freeway office. Also at this time a detective with the Richardson Police Department, Robert Frame, was assigned to the case. What immediately follows is Mr. Walton’s role in this incredible investigation.
For the record, we have attempted to cooperate with both CPS and the Richardson PD throughout this investigation. We have asked both organization difficult questions and questioned their conclusions, abilities, and integrity. As the events in our case have shown neither CPS nor the Richardson PD pursued this investigation effectively. Both of them, especially CPS, worked hard to cover up the abusive incident. In the case of CPS we now know why. The alleged perpetrator was a former investigator for CPS, hence CPS was attempting to cover one of their own, which historically, as their public record has shown, they have done on several occasions.
The following is a description of the unprofessional and incompetent Child Protection Services investigation into an abusive incident, by the alleged perpetrator Eve Richard, at Prairie Creek Elementary School in Richardson, Texas, on 1 February 2013 with the victim being our autistic son. On 12 February we were interviewed in our home by Mr. Walton. Our first question to Mr. Walton was if he had spoken to anyone at Prairie Creek Elementary and Mr. Walton stated he had not yet been to the school. This was an outright lie as Mr. Walton’s case history says he had spoken with Prairie Creek Elementary’s principal, Kyle Stuard, and the Special Education teacher, Jean Pedraza. We told Mr. Walton what had happened to our son on 1 February. For reasons known only to himself Mr. Walton he erroneously came to the conclusion we, the parents, were the cause of the physical abuse. We know that Mr. Walton initiated a thorough check of our backgrounds including FBI fingerprint searches, criminal history checks, etc. Since there was nothing to find, Mr. Walton did not find anything wrong with us, which left him with a large problem. Mr. Walton had made a enourmous mistake and misled the investigation, but instead of admitting his mistake he attempted to cover it up in the hope that it would disappear. He then decided he needed to interview the alleged perpetrator in order to complete the cover up. This interview took place on 8 March, a full five weeks after the abusive incident.
Mr. Walton continued to ignore producing an outcome to this case. We were finally able to contact him, through a colleague, Sharon Cager, who assisted him later in the investigation, on 24 April to determine what the final deposition was. Still Mr. Walton ignored our case until, after repeated contact attempts; finally, on 25 April a deposition of “Ruled Out” was given. Needless to say we were dismayed. We immediately contacted Mr. Walton and his supervisor, Cynthia Rodriguez. Within two days they had changed the deposition to “Unable to Determine,” though they had not seen any of the video evidence from the school’s surveillance videos. Ms. Rodriguez stated the videos were not of any importance.
The deposition of “Unable to Determine” is in contradiction of the preponderance of evidence, which will be detailed in the following paragraphs. Because of ineptness of the investigation by Child Protection Services and the Richardson Police Department we are asking for any assistance your office can provide. We have exhausted all of the complaint procedures available to us based upon Family Code, Title 5, Sub-title E, Chapter 261, Sub-chapter D, 261.309(a).
We met with Naomi Pastrano, Program Director, with Child Protection Services (CPS) at their office on 8700 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas, on 15 May 2013. The meeting was after several telephone calls to the Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA).
On 9 May 2013 we called the OCA and asked to speak with the program director in reference to case #42649157. We wanted to speak with the person who made the decision in this case based upon incomplete information. No one at CPS had ever seen the videos of the actual abusive incident at Prairie Creek Elementary on 1 February 2013. After speaking with the OCA representative we were informed we would receive a response telephone call no later than 12:00 pm on 13 May 2013. The response call never happened.
On 14 May 2013 we again called OCA and asked to speak with the Program Administrator, Eula Rutherford. We were informed our call would be returned no later than 16 May 2013. At approximately 2:30 pm on 14 May 2013 Naomi Pastrano called us and we arranged a meeting on 15 May 2013. What follows is a summary of our discussion with Ms. Pastrano.
The initial part of the meeting concerned identifying pictures we had previously provided to Dale Walton, on 13 February 2013, which Ms. Pastrano had in her possession, of our son’s bruising. Ms. Pastrano identified the location of each of the bruises (upper left and right arms and chest) with our assistance.
We attempted to inform Ms. Pastrano that the actions of the alleged perpetrator, Eve Richard, were highly inappropriate and abusive. Ms. Pastrano did not want to listen to any of our explanations, stating repeatedly they were not an area of concern for her or CPS nor would any of the evidence we provided change her opinion of this case. In essence, Ms. Pastrano did not meet with us with good intentions; she was just going through the motions. She also stated the pictures were not useable as evidence since they did not include an image of our son’s face. We stated there was at least one picture that did show the bruising and our son’s face. We also showed Ms. Pastrano a video our son made of himself on his sister’s cell phone during which he lists the locations of the bruises on him. These two items easily bring together the pictures of the bruises on him with the pictures we took of him. Ms. Pastrano’s excuses then were the pictures were not taken by a forensic photographer. In retrospect, she was ducking away from a decision on using these pictures; this lack of responsibility continued throughout our meeting with Ms. Pastrano.
We attempted to inform Ms. Pastrano of the proper methods, allowed under Texas Administrative Code (TAC § 89.1053 – Procedures for Use of Restraint and Time-Out), for use of restraint, which Eve Richard did not use during this incident even though she is supposedly a highly trained individual with a specialty in dealing with children on the Autism Spectrum. We had also previously provided the Use of Restraint information to Dale Walton on 13 February 2013, which Ms. Pastrano did not have in her possession in the case file. Restraining a child in any other methodology constitutes abuse; again Ms. Pastrano ducked the question saying she was not a judge and could or would not make a decision. We were not asking her to make a decision on what the law was, just the results. Ms. Pastrano made the following outrageous statement, “Bruises, like those on your son, could happen just by putting him to bed at night if he is non-compliant.” This statement is from an individual who is supposed to look out for the safety of children.
We showed Ms. Pastrano the video from Camera #12 in Prairie Creek Elementary of the incident. This video depicts Eve Richard dragging our son through the hallway by his wrists, pinning him to the ground, kneeling on top of him, and then Eve Richard and Mrs. Jean Pedraza dragging him into the hallway outside of the 2nd grade classrooms. Ms. Pastrano did not find anything wrong with these actions by Eve Richard. To Ms. Pastrano dragging a child through the hallway was perfectly acceptable; based upon her previous comments this level of barbarity is perfectly normal for a Child Protection Services Program Director. Again we attempted to point out the inappropriate use of restraint and what the actual law was (we again attempted to give her a copy of the Texas Administrative Code concerning the correct and proper use of restraint, which she again would not accept). Ms. Pastrano’s statements were the same as earlier.
We also attempted to inform Ms. Pastrano of the emotional and psychological abuse our son was subjected to by this incident. How he has for weeks after the incident awoken screaming in the night, “Do not hurt me!” According to Family Code Title 5, Subtitle E, Protection of the Child, Section 261.001 (1)(A) the definition of abuse includes, “mental or emotional injury to a child that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning.” Our child has taken a measurable step backwards in his mental and psychological development because of this incident. Ms. Pastrano again just ignored our pleadings.
Another item of contention raised with Ms. Pastrano was the Forensic Interview our son was subjected to on 12 March 2013 at 10:30 am. Prior to the interview we had defined specific ground rules for the completion of the interview. Specifically, we wanted to ensure we were able to hear and/or view the interview and be able to stop the interview at anytime we determine, as parents, that the interview was not progressing in the best interests of our son who is autistic. Sharon Cager agreed to these items and we decided to allow our son to be interviewed. Upon arrival at the Dallas Advocacy Center we were told none of these items were possibly and the policies of the Advocacy Center prohibited such interference. While we were attempting to contact our attorney, the personnel from Advocacy Center kidnapped our son, and took him to the interview room. This was a gross violation of our son’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of unlawful search and seizure. In this case taking of a child, without the permission or consent of the parents against his will, in effect, kidnapping. After speaking to our attorney we immediately objected to the continuance of the interview and demanded our son be returned to us. Detective Frame came out and stonewalled us until our son grew bored with being interviewed and they were unable to proceed. The video showed our son implicating Eve Richard and Jean Pedraza in hurting him, dragging him by his wrists, but also showed the interviewer, Nakisha Biglow, asking inappropriate questions about his home life, specifically if his father ever hit him.
Contrast this to the interview of the perpetrator, by Ms. Pastrano’s statements, of Eve Richard. Ms. Richard was interviewed in a committee. She was allowed to have the management, Duana Kindle amongst others, of Richardson ISD present to support her and assist in refuting that anything happened. This is a travesty. Ms. Richard is entitled to have her lawyer present but no one else. Family Code, Title 5, Sub-title E, Chapter 261, Sub-chapter D, Section 261.3011(1)(3) states, “Incorporate the use of forensic methods in determining the occurrence of child abuse and neglect.” How is a committee approach to interviewing of an alleged perpetrator a Forensic Method? This is an important question Child Protection Services and the Richardson Police Department are required to answer. This is one more glaring incident of the ineptness of this investigation.
Finally, we brought to Ms. Pastrano’s attention how her employees, Dale Walton and Cynthia Rodriguez, did not follow the CPS’s rules and regulations concerning notification of the deposition regarding this incident. Ms. Pastrano specifically asked us if a deposition was mailed to us on 3 April 2013, but did not follow up this question with any other statement. We responded we received no communication, of any type of form, from CPS on or immediately after 3 April 2013. This leads us to the fact a decision was made and the Stemmons Freeway CPS office and the personnel in that CPS office did not want to notify us because the deposition cleared Eve Richard and the Richardson ISD of any abuse with a ruling of “Ruled Out.” The following includes a true and accurate synopsis of the sequence of events we had to pursue to seek out the initial ruling and our attempts, as parents, to determine why this ruling of “Ruled Out” was rendered.
We contacted Mr. Walton on 24 April 2013 asking about the status of the investigation and if a final deposition was available. Mr. Walton informed us a decision had not yet been reached. We asked Mr. Walton if he had seen the video of the 1 February 2013 incident, and Mr. Walton responded he had not seen any video. We informed Mr. Walton we would have the video of the incident in our possession by 1 May 2013 and would gladly share it with him. Mr. Walton had no interest in seeing the video. We asked Mr. Walton if he still had the pictures of the bruises on our son, and Mr. Walton stated he had no pictures of our son (we had sent Mr. Walton four separate e-mails on 13 February 2013 containing all of the pictures we possessed along with the video our son made of himself). We asked Mr. Walton if he was in contact with Detective Robert Frame of the Richardson Police Department and Mr. Walton informed he had NEVER spoken with Detective Frame. This is another outrageous lie by Mr. Walton as he was in direct contact with Detective Frame on several occasions. We then asked to speak with his supervisor, Cynthia Rodriguez, and Mr. Walton gave us a bogus telephone number (361-878-7460), which had not been used for a significant period of time (Ms. Pastrano’s statement with respect to this telephone number). We called and left a message on this bogus telephone number, the voice mail recording stated it was for Supervisor #12. We asked to speak with Ms. Rodriguez about our case. The message was never returned. All of these statements by Mr. Walton are completely and utterly false, downright lies, and show complete indifference to our child and our case.
Besides lying to us, Mr. Walton during this time was misleading and lying to the Richardson Police Department’s Detective Robert Frame, with whom he was having regular conversations. Based upon information included in Detective Frame’s report Mr. Walton stated on multiple occasions he contacted the parents concerning the investigation. We only spoke with Mr. Walton a single time after 13 February 2013. This conversation was initiated by us, the parents, and we were inquiring what the current status of the investigation was. This conversation took place on or about 27 February 2013. Also Mr. Walton only notified Detective Frame on 7 March 2013 of Sharon Cager’s involvement in the investigation even though Ms. Cager had been actively involved in the investigation since approximately 20 February 2013. Mr. Walton routinely took credit for information, as detailed in Detective Frame’s report, we had, as parents, only shared with Ms. Cager.
Immediately after speaking with Mr. Walton we contacted Sharon Cager. She also stated she had not seen the school’s surveillance video or any of the pictures we had provided Mr. Walton of our son and his bruising. Ms. Cager confirmed Cynthia Rodriguez was Dale Walton’s supervisor.
On 26 April 2013 we called the Stemmons Freeway CPS office direct line and using the directory were able to leave a message on Ms. Rodriguez’s voice mail stating we wanted to speak with her concerning our case and make available the video of the incident, which was going to be in our possession on 1 May 2013. At approximately 4:30 pm on 30 April 2013, finally, Ms. Rodriguez returned our telephone message. She stated at that time the deposition had been changed to “Unable to Determine” and a copy of the deposition would be mailed to us. This, according to the dates on the deposition and our discussion with Ms. Pastrano, is also a blatant lie. The deposition’s mailing date is 27 April 2013, directly implying this “change” in deposition was completed long before Ms. Rodriguez’s stated claim. We also asked Ms. Rodriguez multiple times if she would like to view the surveillance videos of the 1 February 2013 incident and each time Ms. Rodriguez emphatically stated, “No, the videos do not have any bearing on the decision which had been rendered.” It is outrageous that compelling visual evidence of the exact event, as it took place, would not have any “bearing on the decision.” We also asked her if she wanted to see Detective Frame’s report, and once again Ms. Rodriguez stated she did not need to see the report and the report would not result in any change in the deposition. It is apparent to us that both Ms. Rodriguez and Mr. Walton did not want to complete any type of pertinent, comprehensive investigation of Richardson ISD because they were covering for a former CPS employee, Eve Richard. When we confronted Ms. Rodriguez concerning the bogus telephone number provided to us by her employee, Mr. Walton, she just laughed it off as something “that happened all of the time.” The entire telephone conversation appeared as a joke for Ms. Rodriguez and all of our statements were responded to in a frivolous nature. It was after this telephone conversation with Ms. Rodriguez we first contacted OCA.
Ms. Pastrano in the end stated to us she would review the actions of her employees, Ms. Rodriguez and Mr. Walton. She stated the review would consist of determining if these individuals had followed all department policy and procedures. When asked how we, as parents, would know if such a review had taken place. Ms. Pastrano would not provide an answer. Ms. Pastrano finally stated the case was closed and no further review would be completed, totally disregarding any of the pertinent evidence we had presented during our meeting.
After repeated attempted and three letters to the commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services, John Specia, we were able to obtain a meeting with one of his direct reports, the manager of the Office of Consumer Affairs, Jose Martinez. This meeting took place in Mr. Martinez’s office on 12 August 2013. During this meeting Mr. Martinez reviewed the we data presented including the school surveillance video we had, kept the data, and assured us the investigation into our case was going to be re-opened with Angela Goodwin, head of Special Investigations, being the individual responsible for the investigation.
By the time we drove home that day we had received an e-mail from Mr. Martinez changing the status of our case to a “review” of existing data by Ms. Goodwin. He also confirmed to us that the Dallas Stemmons CPS office had not followed procedures and had wrongfully investigated us, during this case. While this was a half-hearted attempt at an apology it reaffirms the reason why CPS office is so unwilling and unable to complete a thorough and reputable investigation of an employee of the Richardson ISD as this employee formerly worked for CPS. To date none has ever been completed.
Ms. Goodwin’s cursory look at the data, refusal to speak with us, and unwillingness to obtain the remaining video surveillance tapes speaks loudly that the CPS Austin Executive Team was just a farce in an attempt to quiet a set of parents who were crying, “Wolf!” too loudly. Within ten days Ms. Goodwin reaffirmed the deposition of “Unable to Determine” even though by CPS own admission the investigation conducted by the local office was incorrect and wrongfully investigate us instead of the alleged perpetrator. Obviously the ineptitude of this organization, brought on by the lack of a check and balances in the system under which DFPS operates, extends to the very top of the organization. The Department of Family and Protective Services does not want to do this investigation. The reason why is the alleged perpetrator, Eve Richard, is a former employee and DFPS has shown in other cases an inability to investigate their own dirty laundry.
As can seen from this long and sordid history, which we have documentation in support of all of the included statements (including a video of the actual incident, which can be made available), the Stemmons Freeway CPS office and the Executive Team of CPS including the Commissioner John Specia, in no way whatsoever wanted nor completed a fair and balanced investigation of the 1 February 2013 incident involving our autistic son at Prairie Creek Elementary. We, the parents, were mislead, lied to, ignored, and treated with disrespect by the Stemmons Freeway CPS office’s administration including Eula Rutherford, Naomi Pastrano, and Cynthia Rodriguez, and especially its lead investigator, Dale Walton. Our integrity was questioned and we were treated as the perpetrators in this investigation.
Consequently this document is a true history of the events as they happened and ask for any assistance you are able to provide. To date everyone within the Department of Family and Protective Services has been unable or unwilling to complete a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the physical abuse our autistic son was subjected to at Prairie Creek Elementary School in Richardson, Texas.
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