Tag Archives: DCS

DCS worker charged with ignoring, covering up abuse

A Department of Children’s Services case worker faces felony charges of tampering with evidence and official misconduct in three cases of alleged physical or sexual abuse of children, according to the Columbia Daily Herald.

Christoper Cody Rose, 32, of Pulaski, was arrested Thursday on three counts of fabricating or tampering with evidence and three counts of official misconduct, according to Giles County Sheriff’s Department records. All are felony charges.

…In December 2013, Rose allegedly failed to report sexual abuse allegations. A juvenile allegedly claimed they were abused, and Rose did not tell police or those in his department, according to a grand jury indictment.

Rose was assigned to another case in March 2015 involving alleged sexual abuse, according to the indictment. He allegedly reported he conducted an interview with a juvenile and the victim made no allegations of abuse.

Rose never performed an interview, according to the document.

In April 2015, he was assigned to a case regarding alleged abuse and poor living conditions. Rose allegedly reported he conducted a home visit and found nothing wrong.

“No home visit was conducted, and the false report affected the outcome of the case,” according to the indictment.

Fabricating or tampering with evidence charges each carry three to six years in prison, Cooper said. Official misconduct charges each carry one to two years, he added.

…“In all three instances, you had children that desperately needed this person to do their job — which is to protect them — and that wasn’t done,” Cooper said. “We look at it as being something very serious.”

DCS spokesman Rob Johnson said Rose started with the department in September 2009 and resigned in April 2015. He declined to offer additional comment because the case remains under investigation.

TN in line with push to keep state custody children in family setting

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee is making a greater effort to place children in state custody in family settings.

A new policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation calls on child welfare agencies to increase efforts to place youth removed from their homes with relatives or foster families.

State officials and child welfare advocates held a news conference at the state Capitol this week to discuss the report.

Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Jim Henry said 81 percent of children currently in state custody are in residential facilities, an increase from 61 percent in 2001.

Linda O’Neal is executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. She said children do better in all aspects of their lives when they’re connected to a strong and nurturing family.

Note: The Tennessee data page from the report is HERE.

DCS employee charged with statutory rape of 15-year-old

A 56-year-old Knoxville woman is accused of molesting her boyfriend’s teenage son while working as a paralegal for a state agency tasked with protecting children, reports the News Sentinel.

Mary Lisa Woods is set to appear before Knox County Criminal Court Judge Bob McGee later this month on three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure and four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure.

Woods worked for the state Department of Children’s Services for more than 14 years. She was serving as a paralegal with the Knoxville office of the agency when, in 2013, she allegedly began molesting the 15-year-old son behind her boyfriend’s back and continued even after the boy’s father died last year, records show.

DCS spokesman Rob Johnson said Woods resigned in lieu of termination in February after a monthslong probe by the DCS Special Investigation Unit and Internal Affairs as well as Knoxville Police Department Investigator Keith Johnson.

Johnson emphasized Woods, as a paralegal, had no supervisory role over children while employed at the agency.

Woman charged with shooting into Nashville DCS office

A Nashville woman has been charged with firing several shots into the building that houses Tennessee Department of Children’s Services offices in Nashville, reports WTVF-TV.

According to police, 30-year-old Yolanda Trice was told that her baby, who was at Tri-Star Centennial for an unknown reason, was going to be placed into foster care. After becoming angry at the DCS worker, Trice left the DCS building on 2nd Avenue North. She then allegedly came back Thursday night with a gun.

A witness reported to police that he heard multiple gunshots being fired at the building, and actually saw the female shooter walk right past him, wearing a white fur-lined winter jacket…They then found surveillance video from the hospital where her child was, and saw Trice wearing a white fur-lined jacket leaving the hospital soon before the shooting.

Trice was arrested Monday night on a reckless endangerment charge.

It’s lucky that no one was hurt because one of the bullets Trice allegedly shot actually went inside the DCS building, just a few feet away from where some employees were working.

….Records show Trice has a criminal history, with multiple charges of aggravated child neglect and abuse as well as several assault charges. She remained jailed on $25,000 bond.

Lawsuits have state spending millions to save email

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee is spending millions of dollars to save emails that could potentially become evidence in lawsuits.

WPLN-FM reports (http://bit.ly/1v6OU8e) during recent budget hearings, Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Jim Henry said his agency is spending $865,000 to save emails. The expense stems from a 14-year-old federal lawsuit over the state’s treatment of children in foster care.

TennCare spokeswoman Kelly Gunderson said that agency spends more than $1 million each year transferring and storing employee emails connected to about 20 lawsuits.

Michele Johnson is the executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center, which has sued the state on behalf of TennCare patients. She defended the need for the email storage.

While it may be expensive, she said it’s necessary to guarantee that state agencies are not destroying potential evidence.

On custody fight between NE felon father and TN foster parents

A judge in Nebraska has refused to take on the case of Sonya McCaul, a 10-year-old girl whose custody has been at issue in court for almost her entire life, reports The Tennessean.

Sonya has lived with her father in Omaha, Neb., since January. Her former foster parents in Dickson County are fighting to get her back. In September, a Dickson County judge sent the case to a Nebraska court, fearing he no longer had jurisdiction.

“The interests of the minor child are best addressed in Tennessee,” Douglas County, Neb., District Judge Leigh Ann Retelsdorf wrote in an order issued Wednesday. The judge refused the case, citing pending litigation here and because Sonya is in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

The Nebraska court’s decision means the legal wrangling will continue in Tennessee, and in front of a new judge….The foster parents, David and Kim Hodgin, have continued to press for a hearing over whether it is in Sonya’s best interest to be with her father.
…Sonya was born in 2004. In 2005, Sonya’s father gave permission to a caregiver to take the girl to Tennessee. DCS quickly intervened when questions were raised about the father’s background.

Her father, John McCaul, was indicted on a federal firearms charge in 2006 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. A court ended his parental rights and the Hodgin family began to care for Sonya. An appeals court later reversed the parental rights decision. McCaul was let out of prison early for cooperating in an unrelated homicide case.

Since then, he has been in a pitched battle with the Hodgin family for custody of Sonya. In January a judge ordered Sonya to be returned to her father in Nebraska on a trial basis. She has been there ever since.

DCS seeks $33M to hire more staff at youth detention centers

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The head of the state’s troubled Department of Children’s Services says the department is taking steps to prevent future incidents at a youth detention center hit by recent rioting and escapes.

Commissioner Jim Henry revealed some of the department’s plan during a budget presentation to Gov. Bill Haslam, who began his annual budget hearings Monday.

On Sept. 1, more than 30 teenagers escaped from Woodland Hills in Nashville. All were eventually recaptured. That escape was the first of three major incidents at the facility in September. There also was a riot in the yard and another breakout in which 13 teens escaped.

Since then, state officials have taken steps such as beefing up security at that facility and two other detention centers.

Henry told the governor and reporters on Monday that he’s working to “change the environment” of the facility by hiring more staff and therapists to work with the teenagers. He also said older trouble-making teens were being moved temporarily to other detention centers.

“You’re going to have a staff that will work with one unit all the time,” Henry said. “You’re going to have therapists that are going to be working with kids all the time that they know, instead of shifting them around.”
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Teens involved in escape may be sent to Texas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Some of the teens who were involved in escape attempts at a detention facility in Nashville, Tennessee, may be transferred to Texas.

Tennessee Department of Children’s Services spokesman Rob Johnson told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1xP4V72) that the youths continue to pose a risk and have not been allowed to return to the Woodland Hills facility.

Juvenile court judges have already approved moving three youths. Another nine face being transferred.

Johnson said all of the youths were involved in at least one of two mass escape attempts in September and have been held in temporary detention facilities since being recaptured.

He said transferring them to The Oaks Brownwood facility in central Texas presents logistical challenges, but would give the teens access to educational and therapeutic services, which aren’t available in temporary facilities.

Last Woodland Hills escapee caught, charged in shooting

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — College officials in Nashville say police have captured the remaining escapee from Woodland Hills juvenile detention center and charged him in connection with a shooting earlier this week.

Tennessee State University says De’mario Fisher faces aggravated assault and other charges in the attack of a TSU student Wednesday night.

A university statement released Friday says Fisher tried to grab the victim’s backpack while she was walking home from a restaurant in Nashville. The victim fought back and was then shot multiple times. She was treated at a local hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

Fisher, 18, has been a fugitive since he and more than 30 other teenagers escaped from Woodland Hills on Sept. 1. According to the statement, Fisher had a loaded gun when caught.

Juvenile escapee added to TN ‘Ten Most Wanted’ list

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the last juvenile remaining at large from recent youth detention center breakouts.

The TBI on Wednesday said De’Mario Fisher of Nashville was added to its Top Ten Most Wanted list.

He was one of 32 juveniles involved in a Sept. 2 breakout from the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville. Two guards were injured in that escape, the first of three major incidents at Woodland Hills in September. There was also a riot in the yard and another breakout in which 13 teens escaped.

According to the TBI, Fisher is believed to be armed.

Anyone with information on Fisher’s whereabouts is urged to call (800) TBI-FIND.