|09-02-2006, 06:15 AM||#1|
I WANT DEFENSE!
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Always Hoping
My daughter happens to live across the street from this house. She didn't know the girl really well that lived there but knew she had gone to Iraq and figured her little girl had been placed with a relative. Never saw the little girl after the mom left. The police didn't get a warrant because if no one was home it wouldn't have done any good Well at least you'd have known. And the paramedics recommend she be transported to the hospital but since the boyfriend says no and her vital signs are good they don't Did anyone think of contacting mom to find out what her condition was before she left Unbelievable. They have shown before and after pictures of this little girl and it is absolutely heartbreaking. State rules DID NOT restrict the response. Anyone heard of just common sense? Thank heavens for grandpa's and a friends persistence.
Police soul-searching over emaciated girl
Child abuse case: Officers say state rules restricted response
By Kirsten Stewart
The Salt Lake Tribune
As a severely malnourished 5-year-old girl recovered in a Salt Lake City hospital Friday, West Valley City police and state child-welfare officials came under fire for their response to the case.
The police, too, are doing some soul-searching.
"This is a very heart-rending case. Have we discussed this administratively within the department? Yes, we have," said police Capt. Tom McLachlan.
The girl - who has severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and withered to 13 pounds in 10 months while in the care of her mother's boyfriend - was hospitalized early last week after her grandfather took custody of her.
The girl's mother had given legal custody of her daughter to Michael John Bowden when she went on active military duty and was deployed to Iraq.
On Aug. 22, police arrested Bowden, who is charged with one count of felony child abuse.
But they were first summoned to the home by the girl's grandfather, Rafael Ferrando, four days earlier.
Ferrando, who had finally tracked down his granddaughter, phoned police after seeing her emaciated condition, said McLachlan. Officers then called for a team of paramedics to assess the girl and decided she was in no immediate danger.
"Years ago, we could go in and pull children out of homes," he said. "Now, it's not that easy."
Among the incremental changes to Utah's child welfare laws is one passed by the Legislature last year that bars authorities from taking custody of a child without a warrant, a court order or a parent's consent - unless there is an emergency.
The restrictions are meant to protect against children being plucked from homes with no due process, said Sen. Greg Bell, who sponsored the new law.
But Bell, of Fruit Heights, says police misjudged his intent.
"If a child is being starved, I think that's an emergency," said Bell. "If we need to tweak the law so police feel empowered, we can look at that. We don't want police plucking children willy-nilly, but we also don't want children in harm. We need to find a balance."
Child advocates fear years of legislative tinkering under pressure from parental-rights advocates have already tipped the balance.
"If police aren't certain they can remove a child, I can only imagine the challenge caseworkers feel," said Karen Crompton, director at Voices for Utah Children. "There may be more to it, but taking it at face value, you have to wonder, can't we do better than this? It seems like nobody feels they can do anything."
Police feel they did everything in their power.
The paramedics suggested that the girl be transported to a hospital, but Bowden refused, said McLachlan. "There wasn't much we could do. He has full legal custody and power of attorney. Even though she was emaciated, her vital signs were good."
Police left the home but planned to notify the state Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) and advised Ferrando to seek an "ex-parte child protective order." Police did not seek their own warrant. Nor did they notify the girl's mother of her daughter's condition until after they made an arrest.
"We knew there would be additional action taken. We weren't just walking away from this," said McLachlan.
DCFS first received a call about the 5-year-old on June 29 from a person concerned that the child was being abused.
Caseworkers went to Bowden's home "over and over and over again," said DCFS spokeswoman Carol Sisco. "We would leave business cards with phone numbers and called the house."
In July, a person believed to be Bowden called DCFS and told caseworkers he was going out of town and would contact them when he got back. After four or five days without contact, caseworkers again went to Bowden's home but could not find him.
In early August, Bowden again contacted DCFS and said he would bring the girl in, but he never did, Sisco said. It was not until last week - when the girl's grandfather obtained a protective order, took her into custody and transported her to the hospital - that DCFS caseworkers got their first look at her.
The girl's mother has since returned from Iraq, and DCFS does not have custody of the girl.
Sisco said the original complaint raised concerns about the girl's physical and medical condition. Asked why caseworkers didn't seek a search warrant, she said, "We can get a warrant to get into a home, but it won't do us any good if nobody is there. . . . It's very hard to assess what the danger is if you can't find the child."
The girl, identified in court documents only as "J.A.," is being treated at Primary Children's Medical Center, but doctors refused to disclose information about her condition, citing federal privacy laws.
Police refuse to release the mother's name and say she is not under investigation.
"Was she aware of this treatment or mistreatment? Absolutely not," said McLachlan.
Bill Cosgrove, a physician at Cottonwood Pediatrics in Murray, has seen patients with spastic quadriplegia. He was disturbed to hear the girl was so small.
According to a growth chart, the average weight for a 5-year-old girl is 40 pounds, with variations from 34 pounds to 46 pounds.
Cosgrove said adults with spastic quadriplegia tend to be very thin partly because their muscles are in spasm constantly, burning a lot of calories.
"Her underlying condition would have left her pretty slim and poor growing anyway. Thirteen pounds means there's more to it than that," he said. "But it wouldn't be fair to compare her to a normal 5-year-old. The issue is to try to compare where she had been in the past with her weight and growth and if this is a sudden change." (Hello! 13 pounds, you should see the child).
Bowden was scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday, but it was continued to Tuesday after a power outage at the Salt Lake County jail prompted a lockdown.
Last edited by gunns; 09-02-2006 at 06:21 AM..
|09-02-2006, 08:48 AM||#2|
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Elway was just an arm =MacGruder
thats a damn shame ............lazy bastard