Monday, January 7, 2008

A Call For Help Ignored, A Child Dead

Do they ever get it right! No matter how you slice it babies are dying, being abused, raped and tortured all under the guise of "The best interest of the child"

I say LET PARENTS on each block be the watchful eye of the children in the neighborhood, let them have the powers to investigate child abuse and take appropriate action, and watch and see what "The Best Interest of The Child" really means!

Understandably upset by the bruised, battered baby that had been in her office earlier in the day, the woman thought she was doing the right thing when, on the afternoon of Nov. 13, she got on the phone to the state child abuse hot line.

But, she said, the response from the hot line operator was "a bit unsettling."

The caller, who spoke on condition her name not be published, said she quickly got the impression the hot line operator did not think much of the information she was providing and was downplaying the baby's condition, which included two black eyes and facial bruises.

The baby's mother had said a doctor had seen the child, and the caller said she asked the hot line operator if that claim could be verified.

"She pretty much said if there was not a case open, there wasn't anything they could do," the woman recalled of the conversation. "I told her I was very concerned, and she eventually said they would check into it."

Unfortunately, it appears the hot line operator did not "check into it."

The woman who made the call was an employee of Warren Hamilton Counties Community Action, who came into contact with the subjects of her call -- Michael J. Flint, Alicia C. Lewie and Lewie's 7-month-old son, Colbi Bullock -- when they visited the agency's Glens Falls office that day.

The hot line operator, however, did not forward the complaint to the Warren County Department of Social Services, according to Glens Falls Police.

Less than six hours after the woman phoned the hot line, an unconscious Colbi was taken to Glens Falls Hospital, and the baby was dead 20 hours later.

Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan said her office is investigating what happened with the call, to find out why it was not forwarded to Warren County Department of Social Services for investigation.

She said her office's investigation is not a criminal inquiry, but part of the effort to build a case against Flint and Lewie, who have been charged in Colbi's death. "Obviously, this is something we're going to pursue," Hogan said.

Flint, 23, of Glens Falls, has been charged with second-degree murder. Prosecutors say he beat, bit and choked the baby.

Lewie, 22, of Greenwich, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. She is accused of failing to properly safeguard the baby.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

A source familiar with the case said the hot line operator has told her supervisors she did not contact Warren County's Department of Social Services because the Community Action staffer who made the call did not provide the biographical information needed for the case to be investigated.

But both the woman who made the call and her boss, Community Action's executive director, Lynn Ackershoek, said she provided the names, addresses and phone numbers of those involved, which the agency had on file through its interaction with Flint.

Flint was performing community service at the time through Community Action for beating a puppy.

Eddie Borges, a spokesman for the state Office of Children and Family Services, which runs the hot line, said he could not discuss the specific call because of laws that require that calls be confidential.

He would not say if hot line calls are audiotaped.Borges did provide statistics, though, showing that fewer than a third of the calls made to the hot line are forwarded to the appropriate county department of social services for investigation.

The reasons for not forwarding the calls vary, but often it is because the caller does not have enough information for an investigation to be conducted, Borges said.

No specific criteria determine which complaints are forwarded for investigation and which aren't, Borges said.

Priority, though, is given to complaints made where a child is in "immediate danger"; calls from people who witnessed abuse; calls from "mandated reporters," such as doctors, teachers and police officers; and calls from people legally responsible for the child in question, he said.

"It's very important that the caller have as many details as possible," he said.Borges said the Office of Children and Family Services is going to start a new educational program in the next few months that will focus on the hot line.

An appeal to Post-Star readers for accounts of their interaction with hot line operators resulted in several people coming forward to tell of similar problems convincing hot line operators to take their reports of suspected child abuse.

One woman, who asked that her name not be used, said she called the hot line to report possible sexual abuse of her daughter by an acquaintance. She said the hot line operator seemed hesitant to take the complaint, and it was several days before she heard from the county Department of Social Services about the matter.

"They were very aloof. I was shocked," she said. "They kind of made it seem like it wasn't a big priority."Another, who also requested anonymity, told of reporting that a relative's child had said his stepfather hit and bruised him. But, she said, no one called her or visited the family to follow up on her complaint.

She eventually called a friend at a local police department, who contacted the county's Child Protective Services agency, which investigated and determined no crime could be prosecuted.

Other complaints that seem far less serious than the obvious injuries Colbi suffered resulted in full inquiries, however.

Fort Edward resident Mark Cozzens said he was the subject of a child abuse investigation several years ago, when a disgruntled relative made a second-hand complaint to the hot line about him being "violent" toward a child.

No charges were filed and no abuse was found, but Cozzens said he was incredulous when he heard about the call related to Colbi Bullock.

"My case went all the way, and it was a joke," he said. "That little baby is dead because that call did not go all the way."Meanwhile, the woman who called the hot line about Colbi has second-guessed her actions, questioning whether she should have made the call sooner or been more persistent.

"I wish I had called earlier, but I thought someone else must have called," she said. "It's a shame. I know they've got a tough job, but the bottom line is, the hot line is set up to protect children who can't help themselves."

Original Article -

A call for help ignored, a baby dead ::


Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that! I feel so sorry for that child! Our family has had it's fair share of Warren County and we are completely disgusted. They allowed 5 complaints made by a mother and investigated the father every time. He now has reduced visitation of 4 hours every other week and the courts are trying to take it completely away from him. All complaints were unfounded, but here is the kicker. The judge had to make a decision based on the allegations by a certain time frame and guess what? He did in the favor of the mother and he hardly ever gets to see his son now. Futhermore, the father made two calls to Warren County regarding his son. By his son own words, his mom grabbed him and yanked him out of bed when he wouldn't get up. He had very obvious bruising and pictures were taken. Also, there is audio tape of what she has done to him. This is the response a Warrem County investigator gave, "Everything is Kosher there." They never requested the evidence. They don't even want it. The mother was fired from her job for "uncontrollable behavior." Warren County has all but sealed the fate of this little boy. There has been witnesses of him being slapped in the back of the head by her and a list that keeps on going. This CPS county needs to be investigated.

Anonymous said...

I agree Warren County is out of control. They allow children to run around their parking lot on visitations with no fenced in area. They also have an agenda of their own. They have to keep with the script or else. I spoke with one womans mother who stated that her daughter was threatened when she told that she wanted an attorney. They told they would make her life miserable. I am presemtly trying to adopt my neices. Warren county is either purposely incorrectly submitting my paper work or are just incompetent. They would rather keep the kids in foster care at the taxpayers expense. We want to provide for the children and give the attention and love they need. A you tube video is coming. Warren County It could happent to you.