Saturday, August 9, 2008

News10 Learns CPS Altered Records in Child Death

Altered records? Nooooo say it aint so... then it's usually "good luck" getting someone to give a shit that things have been altered to suit internal interests!

(Shaking my head--what a racket they have goin on--the entire "family legal structure" needs to be overhauled PERIOD!)

SACRAMENTO, CA - A News10 investigation shows someone in Sacramento County Child Protective Services apparently altered the official case record of a controversial child abuse case where the boy was later killed.

The deletions include the conclusion of the social worker that she couldn't substantiate the suspected abuse of 4-year-old Jamaurae Allen, despite a doctor's report one week earlier that the boy had a bruise "the size of an adult's fist."

Five weeks later, the boy died from massive injuries. The mother's boyfriend, Jonathan Perry, is now charged with murder and felony child abuse.

The other alteration completely omits a telephone contact between the mother and social worker on June 23, where the case worker tried to calm the mother's fear that CPS wanted to remove her children.

"You cannot alter official records under any circumstances. There's a reason they're kept," said former prosecutor Bill Portanova. "If I was still a prosecutor I would be extermely interested in investigating this. Anytime official records exist in two different forms, something's wrong."

Information and documents obtained by News10 show those two discrepancies in the official "Delivered Service Log" released Wednesday by CPS, now required under a new state law regarding deaths by child abuse or neglect.

Under Penal Code section 115.3, "Any person who alters a certified copy of an official record, or knowingly furnishes an altered certified copy of an official record ... is guilty of a misdemeanor."

"If they are taking parts of those out before they release them, then they're trying to get around the law. And if that's the case, that could be illegal. At a minimum, it's not helping the kids," said Portanova.

The case file released Wednesday shows the doctor's suspicion reported June 17, categorized as an "Emergency Response Investigation." After several days of going to the wrong apartment and leaving business cards when no one answered, the social worker finally made a visit to the family on June 24, seven days later.

But in records viewed by News10, an entry from June 23 is completely omitted from the computerized log officially provided by CPS under the new records disclosure act. That entry states when the mother called the social worker, "The mother states she was afraid that this social worker was trying to take her children."

The worker says they have to have an in-person visit, which was set for the next day, June 24.

"This social worker told her not to be concerned about the article in the Bee Sunday (sic) CPS is supportive of families." The Sacramento Bee published a lengthy investigative article on CPS on Sunday, June 22, one day before the telephone call.

The second omission is near the end of the June 24 entry, under the subheading of "Conclusion." Left out of the narrative is the statement, "The allegation in regard to physical abuse was assessed by this reporter with a case disposition of inconclusive." The following sentence is also altered by a few words so it makes sense without the omitted clause.

Under California Welfare and Institutions Code section 10851(f), county case records must be maintained on "a trusted system and that does not permit additions, deletions, or changes to the original document ..."

On Friday, Sacramento County Health and Human Services Director Lynn Frank claimed she's just now becoming aware of the discrepancies and that staff and county attorneys are trying to figure out what happened. The information officer for CPS, Lori Slowthower, said it has to do with what can legally be released. "It has nothing to do with covering our butts," she said.

Then after business hours Friday, CPS Director Laura Coulthard issued a statement saying their policy requires supervisors to review social worker cases and "update or correct findings based on their independent assessment."

"In the Jahmaurae Allen matter, supervisors and management did such a review and made new findings that differed from the social worker's original assessment," reads the statement. She said they're also reviewing allegations of original documents being altered.

Other sources, however, say any additions or corrections should be included in a new report, not changes or omissions to the original document.

Sources tell News10 the social worker in question, a ten-year veteran who was placed on administrative leave after Allen's death, could not have altered the record herself. The alteration could only be done by upper-management personnel with special access to the Delivered Service Log, according to one source.

The entire case of Allen's death and how CPS handled the referrel of suspected abuse is under investigation by the department itself and the Sacramento County Grand Jury.

"We're not expecting anyone to be perfect over there. It's tough work and God bless them for doing it. But the law says tell us what you've been doing so we can make it better. And that doesn't look like what happened here," said Portanova.

Link - Sacramento, California Local News News10 Learns CPS Altered Records in Child Death

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