Sunday, January 14, 2018

Schools’ Roles and Responsibilities

I. Preface Reports of child maltreatment are frequently made by educators, child care workers, and other youth workers due to their extensive contact with children on a daily basis. They are often the first people to whom children disclose abuse or who suspect abuse because they recognize resultant behavioral changes or see physical evidence. School personnel and others who care for children are required by law to report all cases of suspected child abuse. This extends to private as well as public schools and includes child care centers, youth organizations, camps, and after-school programs. The Arizona mandatory reporting law, A.R.S. §13-3620 (See Appendix A), requires that school personnel, or any person who has responsibility for the care or treatment of a minor and who reasonably believes that a minor has been the victim of physical injury, abuse, child abuse, a reportable offense or neglect shall immediately report or cause a report to be made of this information. This means that if there are any facts from which one could reasonably conclude that a child has been the victim of one of the above listed offenses, the person knowing those facts is required to report those facts to the appropriate authorities. This immediate report is to be made regardless of who the alleged perpetrator is. Your duty is to report, not to investigate. If school personnel fail to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect, then they have committed a crime that is punishable under ARS §13-3620. Failure to report sexual offenses is a Class 6 felony. In addition to the mandate in A.R.S. §13-3620, A.R.S. §15-514(A) states that any certified person or governing board member who reasonably suspects or receives a reasonable allegation that a person certified by the State Board of Education has engaged in conduct involving minors that would be subject to the reporting requirement of section §13-3620 shall report or cause reports to be made to the Department of Education in writing as soon as is reasonably practicable but no later than three (3) business days after the person first suspects or receives an allegation of the conduct. Both statutes (A.R.S. §13-3620 and §15-514) grant immunity from civil damages to those making reports, provided the report was made in good faith. A.R.S. §13-3620 also grants immunity from any criminal proceeding to those making reports, unless the reporter has been charged with or is suspected of committing the abuse, or is acting with malice. October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 46 II. Interaction with child prior to report  School personnel generally will receive information about possible abuse in one of three ways: the child will self-report, physical injury or unusual behavior will be observed, or a third party will disclose the abuse.  In order to (1) minimize the number of times the child victim is interviewed; (2) minimize disclosure trauma; and (3) ensure that the appropriate and most qualified professionals conduct the investigation, school personnel should not pre-interview children or call in school behavioral/mental health practitioners to try to determine if the report is credible or if a report should be made.  If the child has not spontaneously provided the following information about the abuse, only these exact questions may be asked as needed to provide basic information needed by DCS, OCWI (or their successor agencies), and/or law enforcement for triage and prioritization: What happened? Who did it? Where were you when it happened? When was the last time it happened? Who have you told? (See Appendix F, Minimal Facts Interview).  Gathering detailed information not only re-traumatizes the child but also compromises any criminal investigation that may be conducted.  Limit questions to the above three if observations of injury and/or unusual behavior are made and the child has not disclosed the occurrence of abuse.  It is not the job of school personnel to establish beyond a doubt that abuse has caused the observed injury or behaviors.  It is completely inappropriate for school personnel to gather additional details in order to respond to anticipated questions by the Child Abuse Hotline worker. The Hotline worker’s questions are for the purpose of gathering information that MAY be known to the person making the call, but is not EXPECTED to be known.  Effort should be made to remember the child's exact words during the disclosure and write them down afterward since these quotes will later be documented on the reporting form.  In the case of third party reports (someone tells school personnel that a child has been maltreated), the school personnel should make a report based on the information provided and should not call in the child for an interview.  School personnel shall maintain confidentiality of all information regarding the abuse report, except when such information is requested by DCS, OCWI (or their successor agencies), Law Enforcement, or the County Attorney.  School personnel should never promise to keep abuse information a secret, or make remarks like “No one is going to go to jail,” or use other distracting or dishonest information to reassure a child.  Never delay a report pending approval of a supervisor, behavioral/mental health staff, or health staff person. Never delay a report pending a discussion with a school resource officer (law enforcement) who is not immediately available. October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 47 III. Making Phone Reports:  Abuse reports should be telephoned to the Child Abuse Hotline 1-888-SOS-CHILD (or 1-888-767-2445) and to 911.  If unsure if the information constitutes abuse or is reportable, contact the Child Abuse Hotline and 911; DCS and law enforcement will evaluate the information and determine how to proceed.  Do NOT contact or provide information to the parent(s) and/or the alleged perpetrator. Refer all inquiries to Law Enforcement, OCWI, or DCS. It is the duty of those agencies, not school personnel, to notify parents of the investigation. Premature and/or inappropriate notifications can hinder investigations and potentially create precarious situations. IV. After the telephone report has been made 1. School office personnel should be trained to maintain utmost confidentiality about investigators reporting to the school. Names and purpose for visit should not be spoken aloud in the presence of other visitors, students, or school staff by investigators or by school personnel. 2. Assist police, DCS, and OCWI upon their arrival by sharing information and providing a private place on campus for the agencies to meet with the child and/or with the reporting source. 3. Contact the appropriate school personnel who need to know in order to protect the child. It is strongly recommended that principals be advised when child abuse reports are made because investigating agencies often respond first to the main office. The principal is also frequently the first to receive calls from parents and would need to know how and where to direct their inquiries. However, the principal should never insist on prior screening of abuse reports, as this interferes with school personnel’s lawful compliance with the reporting mandate. 4. If a parent or guardian calls or comes to the school in an effort to locate a child being interviewed, sheltered or removed from school grounds, the Coordinator (or Principal) should refer the parent or guardian to DCS, OCWI and the law enforcement agency for information. Parent or guardian should NOT be given information about the allegation or about the alleged abuser. 5. School personnel should continue to provide reassurance to the child as needed throughout the investigation but questions about the abuse should not be asked. Any information spontaneously disclosed should be noted and provided to the investigating authorities. V. Responsibilities of DCS and Law Enforcement 1. DCS, OCWI and/or Law Enforcement Officers will conduct the investigation. The DCS Specialist, OCWI Investigator and/or Law Enforcement Officer will provide proper identification and should confer with the reporting party. 2. The DCS Specialist, OCWI Investigator and/or the Law Enforcement Officer may, at their discretion: October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 48 a. Enter the school grounds and investigate cases of suspected abuse without unnecessary disruption of normal school activities. b. Interview the child victim, and all other children residing in the home, on school grounds outside of the presence of school personnel. School personnel may only be present during the interview at the request of the DCS Specialist, OCWI Investigator, and/or Law Enforcement Officer. A child’s request for inclusion of school personnel will be considered. c. Conduct interviews of the child without permission from or notice to the parent(s) and/or guardian(s) depending on circumstances unless prohibited by Greene vs. Camreta ( 35333.pdf ). d. Remove the child from the school (take temporary custody) if necessary to further the investigation and leave a Notice of Removal (DCS) or a Temporary Custody Notice (law enforcement/ DCS) at the school to document the removal. The parent(s) must be served with a copy of the temporary custody. e. Obtain school records by lawful means. 3. The DCS supervisor whose name and telephone number are given to the caller by the Hotline worker shall be available for reasonable follow-up communication with the school. It is understood that the school cannot be given confidential information, but should be provided with information that could help them support and assist the child in the aftermath of the report. VI. The Written Report(s) Per A.R.S. §13-3620, mail a copy of the written reporting form to DCS within 72 hours of making the initial report. The report should be mailed to: Department of Child Safety, P.O. Box 44240, Phoenix, AZ 85064-4240. Copies of the report can, and should, also be made available to the DCS Specialist, OCWI Investigator, and/or Police Officer responding to the school. Per A.R.S. §15-514, mail a written report to the Arizona Department of Education if the alleged perpetrator is a certified teacher or administrator. This report should be sent within three business days to: Arizona Department of Education, Investigative Unit, 1535 W. Jefferson, Phoenix, AZ 85007. VII. Sharing Information Schools will assist the Department of Child Safety, the Office of Child Welfare Investigations, and law enforcement representatives upon their arrival by providing an appropriate place on campus for the agencies to meet with the child and/or with the reporting source. School health personnel will provide information about any visible injury or physical complaints from the child. It is recommended that Principals be advised when child abuse reports are made October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 49 because investigating agencies often respond first to the main office. The Principal is also frequently the first to receive calls from parents and would need to know how and where to direct their inquiries. If a parent or guardian calls or comes to school in an effort to locate a child being interviewed, sheltered, or removed from school grounds, the Principal or designee should refer the parent or guardian to DCS and the law enforcement agency for information. The school should maintain the confidentiality of the case. The school may contact DCS to obtain the legally authorized information about the case and will keep other school personnel informed on a “need to know” basis in order to better assist the child. School districts should communicate to all sites procedures for keeping records of reports, including filing and passing along copies of the written reports. DCS, OCWI, and law enforcement will communicate clearly with schools, preferably with the Principal or designee, about a decision to shelter a child and shall provide and explain the written notice of removal (DCS) or of temporary custody (law enforcement). DCS, OCWI, or law enforcement will notify the parent or guardian if a child is taken into temporary custody. The school will not notify the parent when a child is interviewed at school and/or taken into protective custody. If school personnel believe they may be in danger from the parent or guardian upon their finding out about the temporary custody, they should call law enforcement (911) for assistance. VIII. Internet Resources for Schools on Identifying and Reporting Child Abuse 1. Full text of A.R.S. §13-3620: Arizona Department of Education Reporting Guidelines at: Department of Child Safety (formerly CPS): Arizona’s Child Abuse Information Center: a. 5. Current Attorney General Opinion re: interviews of children on school campus: Current Attorney General Opinion re: reporting responsibilities of teachers and school volunteers under A.R.S. §13-3620:

Pima County Attorney Protocol

Since the early 1980's the Pima County Attorney’s Office has had a specialized prosecution unit devoted to providing thorough and compassionate services to the victims and non-offending family members in child sexual and physical abuse cases. This Special Victims’ Unit currently handles all cases involving: Child physical abuse; Sexual offenses against children and adults (including Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Molestation of a Child, Sexual Conduct with a Minor, Furnishing Harmful Items to Minors, Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation and Commercial and Non-commercial Sexual Exploitation); Failure to Register as a Sex Offender; and civil proceedings involving the Involuntary Commitment of Sexually Violent Persons. MISEDEMEANOR OFFENSES: The Pima County Attorney’s Misdemeanor Unit currently handles misdemeanor offenses involving domestic violence, animal cruelty, and indecent exposure. Under some circumstances, a felony prosecutor may “waive” some Class Six felony offenses of child abuse to a lower court (Pima County Justice Court and municipal courts) for treatment as a misdemeanor. MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TEAM (MDT): The Pima County Attorney’s Office participates in the multi-disciplinary team composed of law enforcement, DCS, the Office of Children’s Counsel, the Office of Child Welfare Investigations, medical providers and the Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center both in the investigation and in the prosecution of the aforementioned cases. Members of the Special Victims’ Unit are available to consult and coordinate with the other members of the team investigations of the foregoing crimes. The primary responsibility for such investigations, however, rests with Law Enforcement, and, when appropriate DCS and OCWI. When an investigation is complete and law enforcement believes it has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and a perpetrator has been identified, the Special Victims’ Unit will be requested to review the case for the “issuing” of charges. ISSUING: One of the attorneys in the unit functions as the full-time Issuing Attorney or “issuer”. It is his/her responsibility to review all cases submitted by law enforcement to determine what, if any, charges will be filed in a case. The issuing attorney will make such a determination based upon a prosecutor’s ethical obligation to hold offenders accountable for all of his/her conduct where there is sufficient evidence to prove the case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. The Issuing Attorney is available by telephone to consult with, and provide assistance to, law enforcement and DCS Specialist regarding investigations. The Issuing Attorney also meets with law enforcement units on a regularly scheduled basis to review on-going investigations. The Issuing Attorney is also available to the Adult Probation Department Child Abuse Unit to immediately staff cases involving offenders who are currently on probation in order to take timely action to October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 39 protect other members of the household. In all other circumstances, law enforcement personnel make an appointment with the issuing attorney to review cases in which offenders may or may not have been arrested. CASES ISSUED: The issuing attorney will determine the appropriate charges and prepare a summary of the case for other members of the Pima County Attorney’s Office to use. That summary will include all clearly exculpatory information that the presenting detective must provide to the grand jury for its consideration. This summary is not intended to replace the presenting detective’s knowledge of the case and appropriate preparation to present the case to the grand jury. Following the issuing appointment, the case detective will make arrangements to present the case to the grand jury, unless circumstances are such that a preliminary hearing is more appropriate. CASES DECLINED: If there is insufficient evidence to establish the likelihood of a conviction at trial, the issuing attorney will decline the case. Law enforcement of other interested partners may always consult with the Supervisor of the Unit concerning case declination. The County Attorney’s Office will notify the victim and/or the victim’s lawful representative that the case will not be issued. Victims have the right to confer with the issuing attorney regarding the decision not to issue a case. The Issuing Attorney and the Supervisor of the Unit are always available to discuss with the victims and/or their representatives, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, the reasons their case was unable to be issued. IN INDICTMENT OR COMPLAINT: The Pima County Attorney’s Office presents most cases in which it seeks to pursue felony charges to the Grand Jury, a group of citizens who are randomly chosen according to statute. The presenting detective will testify to the grand jury and may testify to hearsay in this limited circumstance. The victim is not generally required to testify at these proceedings; however, the Grand Jury has the authority to compel the testimony of any witness. If the Grand Jury finds probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, and the person named in the proposed indictment is the person who committed it, the Grand Jury will return a “true bill” and an indictment and the court process will begin. If Grand Jury does not so find, the Grand Jury will return a “no-bill” and the process is over. In some limited felony cases, the Pima County Attorney’s Office chooses to pursue charges by way of a preliminary hearing, rather than presenting the case to the Grand Jury. This option allows both parties to preserve sworn testimony for use in future proceedings, in case the witness in question is unavailable. If the State chooses to proceed with a preliminary hearing, it will give the defense all existing disclosure as far in advance of the preliminary hearing as possible. At the preliminary hearing, the State will present a complaint to a magistrate judge in Pima County Justice Court and call the detective or investigator to testify, as well as any witness whose testimony the State seeks to preserve. The victim may be among those witnesses subpoenaed. If, based on the testimony presented, the magistrate judge finds probable cause to believe that the October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 40 defendant committed the crimes listed in the complaint, the judge will “bind the defendant over” for trial and the court process will begin. CASE ASSIGNMENT: The Supervisor of the Unit will assign each new case to an individual prosecutor who remains responsible for that case until disposition. PROSECUTION: Once assigned, members of the Special Victims Unit, usually the trial attorney will make contact with the victim as soon as possible to discuss the court process and seek input concerning possible dispositions of the case. COUNTY ATTORNEY PERSONNEL: The trial attorney assigned to each case is assisted by a paralegal, secretary, victim services advocate and, perhaps, an investigator. The paralegal assists the attorney in preparing pre-trial discovery and motions, handling some pre-trial interviews and maintaining contact with witnesses and the victim and/or the victim’s lawful representative. The secretary also maintains contact with victims and victim representatives as well as witnesses, scheduling pre-trial interviews and monitoring the issuance of subpoenas. Victim Services Advocates act as a liaison between the victim and/or the victim’s legal representative both with the prosecutor and the Court. A Victim Services Advocate may be present at pre-trial interviews, court hearings and can assist in coordinating restitution, counseling or other services needed by the victim or his/her family. A County Attorney investigator can assist in the preparation of cases by locating witnesses, handling evidence, videotaping preliminary hearings or depositions. They also assist in serving subpoenas and providing a variety of technical services. OTHER AGENCY PERSONNEL: Law enforcement; Department of Child Safety; Office of Child Welfare Investigations, Victim Service Providers and Medical Providers obviously play a very important role in the prosecution of cases. Law enforcement agencies have a continuing role to play even after the case has been charged. Detectives, Uniform Officers or other investigators may be needed to assist with additional investigation, particularly if follow-up is requested at issuing. Law enforcement has a continuing responsibility to provide all information developed during the course of the investigation, including interview transcripts, case reports, photographs and physical evidence to the County Attorney’s Office. All law enforcement personnel involved in an investigation are potential witnesses and are, therefore, subject to subpoena for trial and pre-trial hearings. Such witnesses may also be required to participate in a pre-trial interview with the defendant’s attorney. October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 41 The Department of Child Safety or the Office of Child Welfare Investigations may have been involved in the joint investigation of a case and/or may have custody of a victim or witness. Accordingly, Department of Child Safety or OCWI personnel may be witnesses subject to subpoena for trial and pre-trial hearings. They too, then, are expected to participate in a pre-trial interview with the defendant’s attorney. Medical Providers are called upon in a variety of settings to assist in the prosecution of offenses handled by the Special Victims’ Unit. In cases of child sexual crimes, a forensic physical examination may be necessary to ascertain the presence of injuries, old or new, test for sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy, and/or collect evidence. These examinations are conducted in accordance with the guidelines contained in the medical protocol. Records of these examinations are provided to law enforcement, Department of Child Safety and the County Attorney’s Office when necessary for an investigation or prosecution. Emergency Responders such as paramedics, emergency room personnel, consulting or treating physicians in cases of physical child abuse may have observed injuries, old or new, consistent with non-accidental trauma. Records of any assessments, examinations, consultations and/or treatment are necessary for investigation and prosecution of these cases and shall be provided pursuant to A.R.S. §13-3620 (see Appendix A). Medical providers or other personnel may be required to testify at the trial of the suspect and will receive a subpoena for his/her appearance. It will also be necessary for those individuals to participate in the pre-trial interview with the suspect’s attorney. RECIPROCAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE COUNTY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE CASE DISPOSITION - CHANGE OF PLEA OR TRIAL: Whether a defendant is offered a plea agreement to a lesser charge(s) or not depends on a variety of factors. These include, but are not limited to, wishes of the victim/victim representative; severity and/or the repetitive nature of the criminal conduct [See Appendix L]; defendant’s prior criminal history; number of victims; age of the victims; and change in circumstances which may adversely impact the ability to prove certain elements of the charged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. Plea agreements can be advantageous in many cases as they provide some finality for victims via a conviction without the necessity of testifying in a jury trial. All plea agreements must be approved in advance by the Supervisor of the Special Victims Unit. Plea offers will generally include restitution if applicable; probation supervision of at least the term specified by statute for the class felony to which the defendant is pleading; in cases involving multiple counts of sexual crimes or serious physical child abuse cases probation supervision for the lifetime of the defendant; forfeiture of computers; compliance with DCS requests/orders; submission of DNA samples; and special conditions for sex offenders. The assigned trial attorney will seek input from victims/victim representatives regarding any plea offers as soon as the case is reviewed. If, at any time during the October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 42 pendency of a case the victim/victim representative disagrees with proposed disposition of a case, the victim will be given an opportunity to meet with the trial attorney, and the Unit Supervisor. Additionally, the victim/victim representative shall advised of his/her right to obtain a lawyer to assist in exercising victim’s rights pursuant to A.R.S. 13-4423, to express any objections to the proposed disposition, and his/her right to obtain counsel to assist in exercising that right, pursuant to Rule 39 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure. Law enforcement should be notified immediately when a case is set for a change of plea. In the interests of conserving resources, it is important to advise law enforcement of a change of plea so further work on the case, in the form of transcription preparation and laboratory analysis for example, can be halted. Some cases are designated by the Supervisor and/or the trial attorney as “trial only” cases in which plea offers will not be extended to defendants. If victims/victim representatives disagree with this proposed disposition, they are to be accorded the same opportunities as set forth above on Section B (2) (a & b). In rare situations a case may be dismissed due the occurrence of circumstances making it impossible to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Recantations of witnesses do not automatically constitute such circumstances. TRIAL DISPOSITION: Trial Preparation is the responsibility of the trial attorney with the assistance of a paralegal and legal secretary. The trial attorney and legal assistant should meet, or telephonically consult with, each witness sufficiently in advance of trial in order to satisfy disclosure obligations and prepare the witness, within ethical guidelines, for a defense interview and trial testimony. The trial attorney should be present for all defense interviews of significant witnesses, including victims, if applicable, lead detectives and experts. The legal assistant is responsible for being present at all others. In some circumstances, investigators may be present. VICTIM PREPARATION is the responsibility of the Trial Attorney with assistance from the legal assistant and a victim services advocate. The trial attorney, legal assistant and victim services advocate should meet with the victim in order to acquaint her/him with the trial process and develop rapport with the victim. Meetings with the victim should take place wherever the victim feels the most safe and comfortable, e.g. office of the advocate; advocacy center family room; the victim’s home. The trial attorney should discuss with the victim the possible outcomes of a trial. The victim and all children who are expected to testify should be provided the opportunity to visit a courtroom in order to mitigate the intimidating nature of those surroundings. Courtroom protocols and procedures should be explained and children should be permitted to ask questions about what the trial might be like. Though it is acceptable to allow a child to sit in the witness chair, this should not be used to “practice or rehearse” their testimony. Children may be shown the microphone and advised that witnesses should speak clearly and tell the truth to the questions asked. Where lawful victim representatives have indicated their unwillingness to allow child victims or witnesses to have contact with the trial attorney, the trial attorney should seek the October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 43 appointment of an independent guardian ad litem or victim representative. Although the victim has the right under the Arizona Constitution and Court Rule to refuse a pre-trial interview with the defendant/defendant’s attorney, the victim or victim representative may elect to participate in such an interview. The trial attorney shall make necessary arrangements for any reasonable conditions requested by the victim including the presence of a Victim Services Advocate or the presence of another support person. The County Attorney’s Office will accord all witnesses appropriate professional courtesy by advising them sufficiently in advance of trial of the day and approximate time of their testimony. All reasonable efforts should be made to accommodate the “real life” demands of witnesses in scheduling their testimony. With regard to young children, it is best to schedule their testimony early in the day rather than later. Courts and the County Attorney’s Office should be mindful of school schedules as well. JURY VERDICTS: The Jury has four options with regard to charges in a trial case: 1. Not Guilty - the jury found, unanimously, that the State did prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant is thus acquitted; charges are dismissed and the defendant is free of further prosecution on those charges. 2. Guilty - the jury found, unanimously, that the defendant committed all the charges he/she faced. The defendant will be scheduled for a sentencing hearing. 3. Guilty of some of charges but acquitted on others. These are also unanimous verdicts. The defendant will still be sentenced but only on those charges for which he was convicted. The remaining charges will be dismissed. 4. The Jury was unable to unanimously agree on the defendant’s guilt of some or all the charges. This is called a “hung jury.” The Court will declare that a mistrial has occurred and a new trial will be scheduled. These cases may be resolved by another trial, a change of plea, or a dismissal. The foregoing decision will only be made after consultation with the victim/victim’s representative. SENTENCING: Following a finding of guilt, either by way of plea agreement or conviction at trial, the trial attorney and victim services advocate should discuss with the victim/victim representative the procedures for sentencing of the defendant. Sentencing generally occurs 30 to 60 days following the conviction. During this time the Adult Probation Department conducts an investigation and prepares a Pre-Sentence Report to submit to the Court to assist it in making a sentencing determination. The County Attorney’s file is provided to the Probation Department for its use in preparing this report and the trial attorney is available to consult with the pre-sentence report writer on any aspect of the case. The pre-sentence report writer will contact the victim/victim representative to discuss how the crime has affected him/her and others in the family. The victim/victim representative may advise the pre-sentence of what sentence he/she believes is appropriate for the defendant to receive. The victim/victim representative has the right to write a letter to the Court; to be present at the sentencing hearing and to address the court, in person, at that time. The trial attorney, secretary, legal assistant and victim services advocate should notify, at the earliest opportunity, the victim/victim representative of any change in date or time of the sentencing hearing. Sentencing October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 44 hearings may be continued to allow the scheduling of mitigation or aggravation hearings and/or to allow for the completion of psycho-sexual or other mental health evaluations. Sentencing options may include probation, intensive probation, jail or prison or any combination thereof. None of the crimes handled by the Special Victims Unit may be sent to the Adult Diversion Program. POST-CONVICTION PROCEEDINGS: Appeals are taken by defendants after every conviction by trial. This is a review proceeding by higher courts. Appeals of jury verdicts are handled by the Office of the Arizona Attorney General. Victim/Victim Representatives will be kept apprised of the status of appellate cases by victim services advocates from that agency. Defendants may also file Petitions for Post-Conviction Relief with the trial court. These proceedings are handled by the Pima County Attorney and its representatives are responsible for providing notices concerning these proceedings to victims/victim representatives.

Behavioral Health Protocol

Behavioral Health Service Providers, including behavioral health professionals, behavioral health technicians and behavioral health paraprofessionals, should be advocates for victims and children. As such, they may provide primary therapeutic intervention, support to families, information, and be a source of referral for child abuse allegations because of their contact with children and their families. A primary concern of the behavioral health providers is to prevent re-victimization of the child. The provider may hear the initial disclosure, either directly from the victim or indirectly from a third person. Since reporting of child abuse is mandatory for behavioral health service providers, it is incumbent upon the provider to be familiar with current theory and research on child physical and sexual abuse. The Arizona mandatory reporting Law, A.R.S. §13-3620 (see Appendix A), requires that behavioral health and social service professionals, providers and other persons having responsibility for the care or treatment of children who “reasonably believe” that a child has been abused or neglected, are mandated to report the matter immediately. "Reasonable Grounds" for reporting means if there are any facts from which one could reasonably conclude that a child has been abused or neglected, the person knowing those facts is required to immediately report those facts to the appropriate authorities. When in doubt, make the report. Abuse and neglect reports should be made to both the Child Abuse Hotline 1-888-SOS-CHILD and to local law enforcement by dialing 911. The statute also states that anyone who reports a case of suspected child abuse is immune from liability in any civil or criminal proceeding resulting from the report unless the reporter has been charged with or is suspected of committing the abuse, or is acting with malice. Behavioral health service providers are responsible for maintaining current awareness of any statutory changes that may occur in the reporting law. Every behavioral health service agency needs to establish a procedure for following the mandatory reporting law. Every behavioral health service provider should be familiar with the specific reporting requirements as defined by the professional standards of his/her governing board. This Protocol provides guidelines as to how behavioral health provider or other person responsible for the care or treatment of children can best fulfill their legal and professional mandates, while working in conjunction with the agencies responsible for the investigation of child abuse cases. I. Agency Responsibilities A. Behavioral health agencies should provide support and assistance to the person who received the initial disclosure through the child abuse reporting process. Please note that in all cases the person receiving the information will be solely responsible for all steps of reporting described herein, and in Section IV of this document, REPORTING AND TRAINING RESPONSIBILTIES, Mandatory Reporting Guidelines. October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 26 B. Behavioral health service agencies should authorize yearly training on child abuse recognition and reporting for their entire staff. C. Behavioral health service agencies should adopt a standardized child abuse reporting form to be utilized for the mandatory written report (See Appendix N for exemplar). Agencies may adopt the sample provided or may create a form that provides the necessary information. II. Receiving the Initial Disclosure A. When it appears that a child is disclosing information about possible abuse, the person receiving such information should listen and ask no leading question. If the child does not spontaneously provide the information, only the following questions should be asked: What happened? Who did it? Where did it happen? B. The person receiving the information should ask no further questions. If the child has spontaneously answered any of the three questions, do not ask that question again. Record verbatim the statements made by the child or reporter in written form. Video/audio recording is not recommended. Any record you make including electronic, written, photo or video record must be preserved and may be subpoenaed. C. Once the initial disclosure has been made, only the forensic interviewer should conduct any further questioning or interviewing of the child. Further questioning may create additional trauma for the child. It may also impede, impair, hinder, interfere with or defeat future prosecution. There is a child advocacy center available where victim interview that meet the requirements of both criminal and DCS investigations are conducted by specially trained interviewers. (See Section III of this document). These interviews are video and/or audio recorded and become forensic evidence. This reduces the need for repeated interviews of the child victim. D. Inappropriate response to disclosure of abuse or neglect poses one of the greatest risks of trauma to the disclosing child. Do not make promises to the child or the nonoffending parent that cannot be guaranteed. For example, do not tell the child: "This does not have to be reported to the authorities"; "you won't have to testify"; "no one will go to jail"; etc. III. Reporting Child Abuse: When a behavioral health provider or other person required to report has reasonable grounds to believe that a minor has been the victim of abuse, he/she should: 1. If the non-offending parent or caretaker is aware of the disclosure and appears to be appropriately supportive, consideration should be given to encouraging the nonoffending parent or caretaker to immediately make the report to law enforcement and DCS while in the presence of the therapist. 1. The behavioral health service provider or other person required to report should request that he/she is identified in any report made by the reporting parent or caretaker. 2. If a behavioral health service provider or other person required to report believes the victim or other children in the home continue to be at risk, he/she should make October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 27 a second report to DCS. 3. Regardless of the non-offending parent or caretaker’s willingness or ability to report, the behavioral health provider still has the responsibility of making the reports to the appropriate law enforcement agency and to DCS immediately. B. Report the suspected abuse immediately to the Child Abuse Hotline and the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the offense took place. C. Document the report information on a state/and or agency approved reporting form. Per A.R.S. §13-3620 (See Appendix A), a copy of the reporting form should be transmitted to DCS within 72 hours of making the initial report. If available, the forms should be faxed to DCS. The fax number for reporting to DCS should be requested from the Hotline Worker to whom the report is made. If fax is not immediately available, the reporting form should be mailed to Department of Child Safety, P.O. Box 44240, Phoenix, AZ 85064-4240. D. The behavioral health service provider and/or Agency should maintain the original copy of the written report and records regularly maintained, which should be kept in the client's file, in accordance with the requirements for preservation of a minor’s records as provided by Arizona regulations. E. Notify an Agency Supervisor, if applicable and immediately available, of the disclosure. Never delay making a report pending discussion with or approval of a Supervisor or other Agency resource. If there are questions as to whether information received constitutes abuse and should be reported, or whether the report should be made to DCS and/or law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the suspected abuse took place, contact the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-888-SOS-CHILD (or 1-888-767- 2445) and they may provide advice. The person receiving the information is solely responsible for reporting to DCS and the appropriate law enforcement agency. IV. Behavioral Health Service Provider's Responsibilities: The behavioral health service provider's primary goal is to facilitate healing in the child who has been victimized. This may include working with family members to negotiate changes in the child's environment, and assisting the family in aligning with the victim to provide emotional support and protection, and assisting in minimizing secondary trauma during the legal process. A. In this role, the behavioral health service provider should delay primary trauma intervention until after the forensic interview and investigation has been completed by the appropriate agency. In the interim, supportive therapy should be provided. Examples of supportive therapy include: 1. Encouraging the child's parent or caretaker not to allow contact between the victim and alleged offender. 2. Taking appropriate steps to ensure the safety of other children in the home. 3. Stabilizing the victim's environment by supporting removal of the alleged offender. B. Behavioral health service providers, who prefer not to work with child abuse victims, or lack expertise in this area, may also contact the Pima County Attorney's Victim Services Division to seek referrals to behavioral health professionals who specialize in working with child abuse victims. October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 28 C. During treatment, if the child or other person discloses further information regarding the abuse, the behavioral health service provider should document the information in direct quotes and promptly report this information to law enforcement and DCS. D. In accordance with A.R. S. §13-3620 (See Appendix A), mandated reporters, including behavioral health service provider, may be requested to release records to DCS and/or law enforcement. Offender treatment records may also be obtained pursuant to A.R.S. §13¬3620 in any civil, criminal, or administrative proceeding or investigation conducted by DCS or law enforcement in which a child's neglect, dependency, abuse or abandonment is an issue. Thus, written records should be complete, concise, clear and factual. A behavioral health service provider who has any questions regarding the release, or requested release, of records should contact the Special Victims Unit of the Pima County Attorney's office. E. Behavioral health service providers should not disclose facts regarding the allegations to the offender, victim, non-offending parent, caretakers or family members prior to the forensic investigation. Explain to the non-offending parent, caretaker or other family members that the facts of the alleged abuse should not be discussed until after the investigative interview is completed by law enforcement/ DCS. Behavioral health service providers should educate the parent/caretaker that the child may need to talk. Parent/caretakers should listen, be supportive of the child, and seek support from the treatment provider during this time. F. Behavioral health service providers involved in the treatment of various parties (i.e., victim, offender, non-offending parents and siblings) should collaborate with each other to support effective treatment. G. Behavioral health service providers should maintain appropriate boundaries in their work with the child and family members. 1. The victim should have a separate behavioral health service provider from the alleged offender. 2. The "no contact" rules between offender and victim should be followed consistently. 3. The victim's behavioral health service provider should not have direct contact with the alleged offender. Communication should be limited to communication between the victim's and the alleged offender's respective behavioral health service providers. 4. The victim's behavioral health service provider should familiarize her/himself with the Adult and Juvenile Probation Department's special conditions of probation for sex offenders. H. Behavioral health service providers should provide support to the child victim through the legal process, as appropriate. In cases where prosecution occurs, a Victim Services Advocate may be assigned. The role of the Advocate includes providing information about the criminal justice system and victim's rights; notification of court dates; visiting a courtroom with the victim; and being a support person during interviews, depositions, and/or court sessions. The behavioral health service provider should provide emotional support to the victim during this process in conjunction with the preparation done by the Victim Services Advocate. October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 29 I. The behavioral health service provider or other person required to report should be prepared to be called as a witness, although this will not always be necessary. This may be done by interview, deposition and/or appearance in court. These persons should be aware that there may be legal limitations regarding the content and scope of their testimony, and should contact the assigned County Attorney concerning any questions regarding requests for interviews, depositions or court appearances. V. Behavioral Health Information Sharing Disclosures may be made to law enforcement, DES and other authorities during the course of an investigation as required or permitted by law.

Medical Protocol

The medical evaluations of child abuse cases can be complex, and involve physical, emotional, and psychosocial issues, as well as custody and legal ramifications. Suspected abuse is uncovered through the presenting symptoms, by a child’s disclosure, or by suspicions of a child’s caregiver, or another reporter. Medical providers are faced with the dual task of ensuring the health and safety of the patient while remaining objective and thorough in assisting with their obligation to report their findings for the investigation and management of these cases by the Department of Child Safety, the Office of Child Welfare Investigations and Law Enforcement. A calm, nonconfrontational approach to informing family members of this duty, without judgment or speculation is essential. (See Appendix A, A.R.S. §13-3620) The Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center provides physicians and sexual assault nurse examiners (S.A.N.E.) who have the education, training and experience to perform forensic examinations of children and provide expert testimony in judicial procedures. The Children’s Advocacy Center is designed to reassure the patient and family, and coordinate with a multi-disciplinary team approach. Referrals for medical examinations come from DCS, OCWI, law enforcement, and from community physicians for second opinions or follow-up. (See Appendix D) The Children’s Advocacy Center provides 24 hour services, including forensic medical exams, advocacy and information. Alleged physical abuse, physical neglect, or sexual abuse can be assessed, and the appropriate timing of the exam maximized to obtain forensic evidence with the goal of minimizing re-traumatization to the child. As a rule, the forensic examiner will not accept a case until there is Law Enforcement and/or DCS involvement. Concerning the issue of Emergency Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) the transfer of a suspected child abuse victim from an Emergency Department to the Children’s Advocacy Center can be done after the medical screening exam (MSE) has been completed. Unless there is concern for significant pain, bleeding or discharge, the genital and anal exam can be deferred to the Children’s Advocacy Center forensic examiner, if DCS and/or Law Enforcement is ready to transport. If the referring physician requests direct contact with the Children’s Advocacy Center forensic examiner, the Advocates will facilitate this communication. Medical records from initial evaluations must be released to Law Enforcement and/or DCS per ARS §13-3620, upon their written request and signature on a medical release. The release of medical records does not require the parent/guardian’s permission; and should be expeditious, as these records will be needed in the investigations. The Medical Evaluation: Children examined at the Children’s Advocacy Center receive a comprehensive physical exam to assess and document growth, sexual maturity, signs of injury, neglect, and sexual abuse, as well as self-injurious behaviors. Although the majority of “after 72 hours” sex abuse exams do not show evidence of acute infection or injury, this does not preclude the possibility that the abuse occurred. The most October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 21 important part of the evaluation is the history given by the child. Even in the situation of a full and detailed disclosure, a medical exam is beneficial in order to ensure the health of the patient. Similarly, an exam in a non-verbal or pre-verbal child might reveal physical findings not otherwise suspected. Sexual Abuse A. The Forensic Interview and Videotaping: In most cases a forensic interview precedes the medical examination. Either the interviewer or one of the investigators (DCS or Law Enforcement) will share information obtained from this process with the medical forensic examiner by, and that person will be present at the time of the exam. The child should not be re-interviewed by the medical forensic examiner. However, brief questions directing the medical assessment and biological collection may be necessary. Any information offered by the victim during the exam should be documented in exact quotes. B. The Medical Evaluation 1. Urgent Forensic Medical Exams (usually within 12 hours at the Advocacy Center or another facility with trained personnel) a. Genital/Rectal Pain, Bleeding - Children experiencing these symptoms need to be seen as soon as possible to identify the cause, and determine if injury is present or symptoms of sexually-transmitted or non-sexually-transmitted infection is present. b. Recent Anal, Vaginal or Oral Penetration - Pre-pubertal children need to be examined within 24 hours to collect forensic evidence, as their body swabs deteriorate quickly. Sperm may be recovered up to 72 hours for older children. Examinations and collection of biological evidence beyond these time periods may still occasionally yield evidence and may be conducted at the discretion of the investigators and forensic examiner. c. Anogenital Injuries - Evidence of healing trauma may be more difficult to detect after 4-14 days, and the magnification and lighting of the colposcopy may be needed to define these changes. d. Sexually Transmitted Diseases i. Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia, trichomonas, genital herpes and venereal warts are infections that require a medical examination. ii. HIV positive children who acquired this disease in an unknown manner require an evaluation. If the child is older than 12 months, the medical forensic examiner should not assume that the victim acquired the virus through the delivery process from an infected mother. iii. Gardnerella (Bacterial Vaginitis) or Monilia (yeast) Infections do not need to be seen for forensic exams. e. Pregnancy - If a child less than 15 years of age is pregnant, or possibly pregnant, an evaluation is needed. If there is a possibility of molestation or if there is a question as to whether sexual contact was “consensual” vs. “nonconsensual” in an adolescent 15 or older. (See Appendix A regarding mandatory October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 22 reporting) If termination is planned, Law Enforcement should be notified so that fetal tissue can be obtained for paternity testing when appropriate. The County Attorney should be consulted in any questionable cases. f. Family or Child in Crisis - In the setting of a disclosure, even when the child has no physical symptoms or forensic evidence is unlikely, an urgent exam should be obtained to give reassurance to the child and family if they are having severe emotional conflict. 2. Non-Urgent Forensic Medical Exam (scheduled during the regular medical exam hours) a. On-going chronic sexual abuse – Those cases with disclosure indicating more remote (weeks & months) activity. b. Extreme Sexualized Behavior – Exam needed if child gives a history of molestation, or a therapist after working with a child for a while feels that sexual abuse has most likely occurred. c. Custody Disputes - Allegations of potential abuse are handled in the same manner as in non-custodial cases. If a verbal child does not disclose sexual abuse during his/her forensic interview, and there’s no other indication of sexual victimization, no medical evaluation shall be necessary. If a medical exam has been conducted, repetitive exams will be avoided unless additional history is very suggestive of medical necessity. The forensic examiner may have to involve other medical or psychosocial personnel in the event of a parent requesting frequent exams which cause anxiety and emotional conflict for children. d. Non-verbal, pre-verbal, or special needs children (without symptoms) – One medical evaluation should ideally be conducted when an allegation of sexual abuse is made. However, some children may be referred to the Advocacy Center for second opinions after a community caregiver has done the initial exam. Procedures for Forensic Sexual Abuse Evaluation: These aspects of the exam are pertinent to all cases, regardless of the time interval from the incident. A. Complete medical history (including immunizations) will be obtained at the time of the exam (by guardian, DCS, the child or the family). B. Child is offered a choice of having the exam with or without a supportive person (of his/her choosing). If this person is disruptive or inappropriate, the adult shall be asked to leave. C. After the completed physical exam, the genital and anal areas will be examined with good lighting, and whenever possible with the colposcopy for magnifications, and in some case, colposcopy photographs. D. Any signs of trauma, recent or remote will be documented on body diagrams, and photos, whenever possible (with documentation and reference standards). Medically directed forensic photography through the use of agency personnel may be conducted to further document non-genital injury. October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 23 E. Appropriate lab testing for pregnancy, sexually and non-sexually transmitted diseases will be obtained. F. A forensic medical report will be completed and used for documentation, and recommendations addendums will be provided if any follow-up exams or test results return with positive findings. Acute Assault Exams: Use of the sexual assault kit, in appropriate settings includes the following: A. Paper bagging of individualized items of clothing. B. Collecting specimens from body orifices via swabs. C. Collecting other debris (trace evidence) which may be present. D. Collecting specimens via swabs of the areas that may have perpetrator body fluids (bite marks, semen dried on skin) using the Wood’s lamp. E. Proper drying using swab drying device (using non heated air) and handling all materials with gloves F. Maintaining the chain of custody. The collection described above is optimal when done prior to bathing, changing clothes, or urination/defecation. Pregnancy and STD prophylaxis need to be considered and offered where appropriate. See Appendix P for triage procedures for Emergency Sexual Abuse Exams. Procedures for Physical Abuse & Neglect Evaluations A. Physical abuse ranges from minor injury to death. The most serious injuries, and the most frequent deaths are in children “too young to get away” and too young to tell,” or those who have special needs or behavior problems. B. Urgent examination is necessary for obvious, visible injuries, but the potential of hidden internal and skeletal injuries must also be excluded when physical abuse is suspected. These exams require facilities that are able to do diagnostic procedures and consult specialty staff (skeletal surveys, CTS, MRIs, ophthalmologists for retinal injuries, etc.). C. Injuries sustained by children that are non-accidental are suspected when there is inconsistent or absent history. When there are multiple injuries in different stages of healing, locations not commonly injured (abdomen, genitals, etc.), or delay in obtaining medical care. Changing doctors frequently, and using different urgent care treatment centers to avoid detection of the frequency of a child’s visits is also suspicious. D. Non-emergency medical evaluations should be scheduled at the Children’s Advocacy Center after a child has had a forensic interview, if possible. Medical exams are needed in most physical abuse incidents wherein legal proceedings are anticipated. It will be necessary to collect physical evidence related to the child’s condition or injuries. This includes all the injuries, and not just the most obvious or serious ones. E. Reference standards (measuring tapes, gray scale, and color wheels) and multiple angle shots are necessary to photographing bruises and injuries that will be documented in the forensic medical record. October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 24 F. The forensic examiner may need to review all past medical records, tests and pertinent information in order to give an opinion in establishing a physical abuse or neglect case. Referral to specialists for diagnostic procedures (i.e., skin biopsy) may also be included in these cases. In some cases, appropriate lab studies may be necessary to exclude bleeding disorders or inherited disorders. Communication and Information Sharing with the Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center All medical records released to DCS and/or Law Enforcement should be made available to the forensic examiner at the Children’s Advocacy Center, and all pertinent past medical history (including immunizations) should be obtained if a family member doesn’t accompany the child. Information regarding the disclosure (who, what, when, where, why, and how) needs to be available to the forensic examiner at the time of the exam. Children with positive test results for sexually transmitted diseases need to have the written report accompany the child. DCS or the child’s guardian is required to sign a request for the HIV testing. Following the exam, the forensic examiner summarizes the findings, recommendations, and any follow-up needed. In joint investigations, it is expected that this information will be shared between the investigators in a timely manner. The child’s guardian is given whatever information is necessary for the health and welfare of the patient, and encouraged to contact the Children’s Advocacy Center if any new symptoms develop. Results of positive labs are shared with the patient (when appropriate), guardian, DCS, and Law Enforcement, as well as suggestions for medical follow-up if necessary. The guardian is given information on the health and welfare of the patient, as well as information on any needed medical follow-up and/or further testing or to establish primary care. A complete medical report and psychosocial report are distributed to DCS and Law Enforcement. Records, including lab reports, may be forwarded to community physicians but require a parental or custodial (DCS) signed release. Medical personnel will take precautions to maintain patient confidentiality, and will contact patient/family members with DCS involvement if further information is needed. It is expected that unusual situations or difficult issues may arise which require a team staffing to facilitate the overall management of a case.


The purpose of law enforcement’s response to incidents of physical and sexual abuse involving children is to determine if a crime has been committed, and, if so, to discover the facts and evidence necessary to bring the perpetrators into the Criminal Justice System. Law enforcement’s responsibility is to conduct an impartial investigation within the bounds of statutory requirements and case law, while considering the needs of the victim and the responsibilities of other organizations involved in the investigation, treatment, support and recovery of the victim and their families (if appropriate). To this end, law enforcement is required by law to coordinate their investigations with those of DCS and the prosecuting agency. This protocol applies to all allegations of criminal conduct [See Appendix L] against a minor as follows: (For purposes of this law enforcement protocol, “criminal conduct refers to incidents that require medical attention):  Physical abuse with physical injury  Medical neglect that requires medical attention  Child neglect cases where the child must be removed from the environment for safety  Child Sexual Abuse allegations  Domestic violence incidents when the child witnessed an act of violence I. SPECIALIZED INVESTIGATIVE UNITS/DESIGNEES: Investigations involving crimes against children are most effective when law enforcement agencies establish specialized units to conduct those investigations. Smaller agencies are encouraged to designate a specialist if the number of investigations does not warrant a unit. Members of these specialized units or designees will: A. Receive intensive training in the investigation of child neglect, physical and sexual abuse B. Complete the 8-hour Basic Forensic Interviewing course (or comparable training) before conducting interviews with children C. Complete the 40-hour Advanced Forensic Interviewing course (or comparable) as soon as possible after observing a variety of child interviews D. Establish and maintain a working relationship with DCS, OCWI, the Advocacy Center and members of the prosecuting agencies involved in prosecuting child abuse cases II. BASIC INVESTIGATION PROCEDURES A. Initial Response In most cases, a uniformed officer will be the first responder to reports of child abuse. It is the responsibility of this first responding officer to establish the elements listed below. If possible, the officer should obtain this information from the reporting party, interviewed away from the victim, witnesses, or others who may have information about October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 14 the report. If the victim must be questioned, the officer should obtain this information using a minimum of questions and without attempting to elicit specific details, and without providing any details to the child that were received from other witnesses. (See Appendix F, Minimal Facts Interview): 1. Determine the need for immediate medical treatment or forensic examination1 - in either case, the responding officer should contact detectives immediately 2. Secure and preserve the crime scene, if applicable 3. Obtain the names and identifying information for all parties involved. (DCS information is typically filed and accessed through the child’s mother’s name) 4. Establish the elements of the crime (what does the child say and is it a crime?) 5. Determine jurisdiction: a. If within the officer’s jurisdiction- proceed with department procedure. b. If outside the officer’s jurisdiction and the child is in a safe environmentdocument the report and coordinate with the appropriate jurisdiction c. If outside the officer’s jurisdiction and the child is not safe- coordinate immediately with the appropriate jurisdiction and DCS before leaving the scene 6. Obtain information about the suspect: a. Relationship and access to child, b. Knowledge of report c. Willingness to speak to investigators d. What happened? e. Who did it? f. Where did it happen? Once this information is gathered and it is determined that a crime has been committed, officers should contact the appropriate agency and the designated Child Abuse Hotline. This should be documented in the officer’s case report and/or supplement. In cases involving allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and/or failure to protect by a parent, guardian, or custodian, officers shall immediately contact the DCS Hotline to satisfy the cross-reporting section of the Mandatory Reporting Statute (A.R.S. 13-3620) and to begin the joint investigation process. Similarly, when DCS or OCWI receives reports of this nature, law enforcement agencies should expect DCS and OCWI personnel to report such allegations, regardless of the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, via 911. DCS and OCWI investigators may contact the law enforcement child abuse unit supervisor to notify of a pending case; however, investigators should always immediately call 911 to make the cross-report and establish a law enforcement case number. In cases involving physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or neglect perpetrated by someone other than a parent, guardian, or custodian, law enforcement will have sole investigative responsibility. In such cases, consulting with DCS and OCWI to research past family history and other relevant background information is recommended. 1 A forensic examination, including completion of a sexual assault kit should be considered within 72 hours of an incident where semen, saliva, or other biological evidence may be present. October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 15 The responding detective may contact the local supervisor of the appropriate DCS unit through the 24-hour law enforcement contact number (1-877-238-4501). Upon direction of the case detective, detective supervisor or pursuant to department procedures, officers may then: 1. Interview any adult witnesses, documenting biographical information, business or school addresses, and contact information. 2. With investigator approval, interview the suspect if present and aware of the allegations. When deciding the need for an immediate arrest, consider the following: Input from the case investigator, risk of flight, suspect’s danger to the community 3. Assess the need for a search warrant and proceed under direction of the case investigator, or a supervisor. 4. Take photographs, make diagrams, etc. to document and preserve the scene. 5. Actions taken should be documented in the detective’s case report. B. General Investigation of Child Abuse: A specially trained investigator as described in “Specialized Investigative Units/ Designees” will conduct the follow-up investigation. Any information obtained through the criminal investigation will be shared with the DCS Specialist as soon as possible. 1. Victim Interviews: a. Investigators will conduct their investigation, interviews, etc. in a manner that assures the victim is only interviewed once. b. Child victims under the age of 18 years will be interviewed at the Advocacy Center by a specially trained investigator or by one of the forensic interviewers employed by the Advocacy Center whenever possible. c. This interview will be coordinated with the assigned DCS Specialist, if applicable. This means the DCS Specialist will be called before the interview is scheduled to attempt to determine a mutually available time. If this is not feasible, the recording of the interview will be shared with DCS as soon as possible. Efforts to conduct a joint investigation with DCS shall be documented in the case report/supplement. 2. Witness/Family Interviews a. When possible, child witnesses or family members under the age of 18 years will be interviewed at the Advocacy Center by a qualified interviewer. b. Anyone to whom the child has disclosed information shall be interviewed, to include the circumstances under which the child disclosed. c. Obtain biographical information, home and business addresses and other identifiers of all witnesses, victims, suspects, etc. d. Interviews not jointly conducted will be shared with the DCS and OCWI personnel as soon as possible, when appropriate. October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 16 3. Medical Treatment a. Conduct recorded interviews with all medical personnel with knowledge of the case. Medical personnel will be asked about time frames, mechanisms of injury and symptoms the child would be expected to show given the injury sustained. b. Specialized medical personnel such as neurosurgeons, pediatric radiologists, etc. may also be contacted to provide expert testimony. c. Collect all forensic evidence and document the collection appropriately. d. Obtain and execute appropriate Search Warrants, including anything that corroborates the child’s account of abuse (i.e.: “there was a red and green striped sheet on the bed”, etc.). e. Facilitate and document the performance of medical exams and sexual assault kits (See Medical protocol for details concerning kits and exams). f. Take photographs of injuries, scenes, etc., remembering to take repeat photographs to document the development or healing of injuries over time. 4. Investigative Techniques: Investigators may use established investigative techniques when appropriate, including: a. Phone confrontations b. Court order for physical characteristics c. Polygraph examinations 5. Investigators shall conduct investigative research including, but not limited to: a. Prior convictions of the suspect b. Prior police reports involving the suspect, victim, witness(es) c. Prior unreported allegations involving the suspect, victim, witness(es) d. Current and prior DCS and OCWI reports e. 911 transcripts, if applicable f. Medical records (historical records from victim’s birth through the current case). In cases involving medical or nutritional neglect, get medical records for the period of time between the initial report and the provision of appropriate medical treatment to document the child’s response to receiving proper care. 6. Suspect interviews a. Suspects in criminal investigations shall be interviewed by law enforcement personnel. In the spirit of joint investigation, law enforcement will include a DCS or OCWI investigator (whichever is applicable) in all interviews for cases where a parent, custodian, or guardian is suspected of the abuse or neglect, unless extraordinary circumstances exist. All investigators will confer prior to beginning the interview to share information and develop a joint strategy that recognizes the paramount importance of child safety and the need for all partners to assess the incident in question as quickly and thoroughly as possible. This strategy will take into consideration each agency’s past history with the suspect, the setting, the seriousness of the situation in question, and address how to make sure that all statements are given voluntarily and allow all agencies to pursue the information October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 17 they need for their respective roles. Joint investigation partners recognize that, during an ongoing criminal investigation, law enforcement personnel have primary responsibility for and authority over investigation and interviews, but that cooperation with and inclusion of DCS and OCWI in that process maximizes the likelihood of a good outcome for the investigation and the safety of the child. b. DCS or OCWI personnel may ask questions pertaining to their investigation, after law enforcement has concluded their questioning. c. Suspect interviews will be video recorded or, at a minimum, audio-recorded. C. Crime Specific Issues 1. Child Physical Abuse/Neglect: a. Photographs shall be taken by a crime scene unit, when possible. Some bruising may be more prominent the day after the injury occurs, take further sets of follow-up photographs to document that development. Photographs of injuries shall include a ruler and color bar. b. Homicide scenes and other scenes containing physical evidence shall immediately be secured and investigators notified. c. Interviews of caretakers should focus not only on the current injury, but also on a thorough background of the child’s health and upbringing. d. Obtain all medical records including hospital, doctor or Emergency Room visits. e. Obtain signed authorization to release medical information when possible. 2. Child Sexual Assault a. Investigators should ask the child about “grooming” behavior when interviewing the victim. b. The investigator should ask the victim about any photographs shown to the victim or taken by the suspect of the victim. c. The investigator should consider arranging for a sexual assault kit if an assault occurred within 72 hours of the report. Beyond 72 hours, the investigator should consider a medical examination to address past abuse, exposure to sexually transmitted illnesses, and other health concerns. d. The investigator should consider seeking a court order or search warrant for examination or evidence collection from a suspect when there is a chance the victim’s DNA may be present on him/her. D. Case Presentation: Cases will be presented for issuing in accordance with guidelines set forth by the prosecuting agencies. 1. If the case is not issued, the prosecuting agency shall notify the victim’s representative and DCS and OCWI. 2. If returned for follow up, the requested information shall be obtained as soon as possible. 3. The prosecuting agency shall be advised if the investigating agency closes the case. E. Notification Milestones ref: Joint Investigations: Every effort shall be made to assure open and frequent communication between law enforcement, DCS and OCWI throughout October 2014 – Pima County Protocols for the Multidisciplinary Investigation of Child Abuse, page 18 the investigation. At a minimum, the following events shall immediately (within 1 working day) be shared with DCS and OCWI: 1. Assignment of a case involving an “in-home” suspect and an investigator from DCS or OCWI is assigned. The purpose of this notification is to coordinate an interview of the victim at the Advocacy Center. 2. Interviews of family members 3. Contact with a suspect 4. Arrest of the suspect 5. Closing a case for lack of evidence 6. When an issuing appointment is made (DCS or OCWI investigator may want to provide input) 7. Outcome of issuing and grand jury.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Arizona Judge: Child Removed from Home Illegally – Only Reason Was Child Was “Adoptable”

Commentary by:
Terri LaPoint, Assistant Editor
Brian Shilhavy, Editor
Health Impact News
One of the dirty little secrets of Child Protective Services is that children are sometimes taken from their homes, and their parents’ rights ended, simply because the children are “adoptable.”
Now, in a stunning reversal of a termination of parental rights decision, a Court of Appeals has concluded that the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) took children from their mother primarily because her children were considered adoptable.
This admission is now part of the court record.
This confirms what many parents and social worker insiders have told Health Impact News – that one of the reasons that children are taken even from good, loving homes is because of their adoptability, not just in Arizona, but in every state.
There is a great deal of federal funding in adopting out children to strangers; thus, children have literally become a commodity to be seized and sold.
Devani photo from AZ Childrens Lives Matter FB page
Devani was taken from her mother by Arizona DCS for false allegations, then placed into a foster home that was a pornographic pedophile ring. With her blond hair and blue eyes, she was very adoptable. Story Here.
In any other context, this would be considered human trafficking. In the context of Child Protective Services, it is considered “in the best interest of the child.”
AZ Central reported the story of the Maricopa County family on November 20, stating:
Writing for the three-judge panel, Acting Presiding Judge Peter B. Swann concluded there appeared to be only one motive to separate the mother from her kids: that the children were adoptable.

Judge: Adoptability Not a Justification for Overriding Parents’ “Fundamental, Constitutional Rights” to Parent

In the 15 page ruling, the judges addressed the DCS argument to sever parental rights based on adoptability:
[Point 34] In evaluating the children’s best interests, the court found that both children were adoptable, that their respective placements are meeting their needs, and that they would gain permanency and stability through severance. The Department argues this is sufficient to establish best interests. We disagree.
Earlier in the ruling, Judge Peter B. Swann upheld the fundamental Constitutional right to parent:
As the United States Supreme Court held in Santosky v. Kramer:
The fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care, custody, and management of their child does not evaporate simply because they have not been model parents or have lost temporary custody of their child to the State.
Even when blood relationships are strained, parents retain a vital interest in preventing the irretrievable destruction of their family life.
If anything, persons faced with forced dissolution of their parental rights have a more critical need for procedural protections than do those resisting state intervention into ongoing family affairs.
The ruling also affirms that the mother in this case:
has a fundamental constitutional right to the “companionship, care, custody, and management of” and “associat[ion] with” her children ….
The purpose of DCS involvement is not to override parents’ constitutional rights, according to the Arizona Court of Appeals:
The purpose of the state’s initial involvement is not to sever parents’ constitutionally protected rights to the care, custody, and association with their children, but to ensure that children are healthy and safe and to rectify the circumstances that led to the need for intervention.
Based on these fundamental constitutional rights, Judge Swann elaborated on the concept of adoptability:
Adoptability… is not on its own sufficient to overcome a parent’s constitutional rights. …
The Department must show that there is a substantial likelihood that the parent will not be capable of parenting effectively in the near future, not that someone with better parenting skills may be able to care for the child. See Roberto F., 232 Ariz. at 53, ¶ 38 n.11.
Otherwise, “it is irrelevant whether a child has a stronger attachment to their foster parents, whether foster parents are more ‘nurturing,’ or whether foster parents might be more capable or better parents than a natural parent.”
Read the full ruling here.

Adoptability Has Long Been a Factor in State-sponsored Kidnapping of Children

Merissa Hamilton, Libertarian candidate for governor of Arizona, has made protection of families from DCS overreach a primary focus of her campaign. She reached out to Health Impact News with this commentary on the Appeals Court decision:
Finally, a court has documented that Arizona’s DCS is only severing rights because children are adoptable and not because any abuse or neglect exists.
It has long been known that Arizona DCS, in collusion with judges, have been severing parental rights based on adoptability. In fact, one of the requirements from the federal government in order to receive the Title IV-E funding is to prove the adoptability of the children.
Merissa Hamilton and Terri in DC Sept 2017
Merissa Hamilton and Terri LaPoint in Washington, D.C., advocating for families. Photo source: Merissa Hamilton.
Just last year, in one of the first cases I worked on, the judge wrote in her statement on terminating the mother’s rights, that although the State had not proven the accusations against her, since her children were highly adoptable, she was ruling for rights to be severed to create permanency for the children — permanency with total strangers. This woman lost her appeal and has not seen her young children in over a year.
Separating children from their parents and loved ones, who provide healthy homes, to be placed with strangers is indeed child abuse!
Arizona DCS must be abolished and replaced with a system that actually protects the welfare of children, rather than the financial interests of the State. We need a system that rehabilitates families when possible, doesn’t traumatize children like what the Shoars’ children have experienced [see their story here], doesn’t sell children into pedophile rings like what happened to baby Devani [see her story here], and most certainly doesn’t steal children from healthy homes!
I am thankful that we now have case law established to protect children from an over-aggressive State agency who has proven time and again as a failure to our children and families.

How to Kidnap a Child Without Evidence: Hire a Psychologist as an “Expert Witness”

Brenda Bursch
Dr. Brenda Bursch from UCLA has frequently been called upon in Arizona as an “expert witness” against parents in favor of severing parental rights.
In addition to the flawed evidence presented by Arizona DCS social workers to terminate the parental rights in this case, the judge’s opinion also implicated the “evidence” submitted by the states expert witness, a psychologist:
Only two pieces of evidence could support the juvenile court’s findings: the testimony of the Department’s case manager and the psychologist’s testimony and evaluation of Mother. Both are too fundamentally flawed to support severance.
While judges and courts often rely heavily upon expert testimony given by doctors, we have discovered here at Health Impact News that when the State does not have enough evidence to support the removal of parental rights, it is all too easy to find a psychologist willing to testify against parents in support of removing children from their families, especially in Arizona.
In this current Arizona case, Judge Peter B. Swann notes that the psychologist testified against the mother with no supporting evidence:
The evaluator also stated that “records” indicated Mother has bipolar disorder. But there is no reference to any such records anywhere else in the evaluation (or the record on appeal). And the only records the evaluator claims he consulted were the progress reports provided by the Department. There is no other indication in the record that Mother is bipolar.
In addition, the psychologist apparently presented the mother to the court as a drug addict, even though the mother had repeatedly tested negative for any drugs:
The psychologist recommended Mother receive one year of doctoral-level therapy, family therapy, and group therapy; and further recommended specialized substance-abuse treatment, parenting classes, parent-aide services, and domestic-violence classes.
If these conclusions were supported by evidence, they would indeed be significant, but the evidence tells a different story.
Conspicuously absent from the information the Department gave the psychologist is any reference to the 14 months of services Mother had successfully completed or was currently receiving.
Mother had — without exception — tested negative for drug use; successfully closed out of her drug-testing service because of the lack of any positive test; closed out of drug rehabilitation because the service provider determined that no drug treatment was necessary; participated in domestic-violence counseling and group meetings; and successfully completed at least eight months of parent-aide services and supervised visitation, where she always came prepared and showed proper parenting skills.
In Judge Peter B. Swann’s opinion, he was especially critical of the psychologist’s unwillingness to examine the evidence, or conduct his own evaluation of the mother:
At trial, the expert testified that he never received any information about these services. Nevertheless, he testified that Mother had benefitted “very little” from them and that the lack of a positive drug test did not detract from his conclusions on her drug dependence and need for treatment.
He explained, “I was not looking . . . [at] her training and as to being a parent, I was looking for a diagnosis.”
Because he neither considered the available information nor attempted to evaluate Mother’s parenting skills, his conclusion that she is unable to successfully parent for the foreseeable future is not reasonable evidence of Mother’s parenting ability.
Indeed, the foundation for his opinion is so lacking that we question (though we do not here decide) its admissibility.
Leanna, Jameelah, Chaunell (1)
Arizona mother Leanna Smith had her children taken away by the State of Arizona based largely upon the expert witness testimony of psychologists. Story here.
Using psychologists’ testimony as “expert witnesses” to testify against parents even when there is no evidence implicating the parent of abuse or neglect, is unfortunately a common practice we have found in many of our stories.
When parents disagree with doctors or try to seek a second opinion regarding medical care of their child, they are often labeled by a psychologist as having a disorder called “Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.”
Leanna Smith filed a federal lawsuit against the State of Arizona for the removal of her daughters. The lawsuit implicated Arizona DCS of using false testimony from psychologists employed by the department:
The key to this complaint is the act of Dr. Brenda Bursch (“Bursch”) and Marina Greco (“Greco”), a licensed therapist who intentionally and knowingly practiced medicine without a license. They did so pursuant to a conspiracy to manipulate a child in CPS care and custody and were aided and abetted by Bonnie Brown, CPS Supervisor , Tammy MacAlpine, CPS Case worker, Katrina Buwalda, a licensed psychologist in Arizona. (Story here.)
Arizona mother Melissa Diegel lost custody of her two daughters after she questioned doctors and wanted to seek a second opinion. Story here.
Arizona mother Melissa Diegel has gone public with her daughters’ medical kidnapping by the State of Arizona, and has implicated psychologists’ expert testimony as a primary reason she lost her daughters:
Brenda Bursch, PHD – “Professional Testifier”
So how are the courts successfully keeping these children?
In some cases, they hire professional testifiers like Brenda Bursch, who gets paid $200 an hour to testify on the stand. She is contracted by different states, (in her case 5 different states.) She has been practicing for over 20 years, and has been working with CPS since the early 1990s. She now gets paid to professionally and falsely testify against the parents.
Brenda Burch has a PHD in psychology. She testifies against the medical records she has reviewed, but she is NOT a licensed medical doctor. Also, in most cases, she has NEVER MET the children or the accused parent IN PERSON until the day of the trial, yet testifies as to their supposed diagnosis on the stand.
Her specialty is MBP. She boldly claims that a parent should never be able see their child again because the parent has made the child ill. In seemingly all her cases, she claims the parents suffer from “Munchhausen by Proxy/ Factitious Disorder,” yet she has never spoken to the parent or child in almost all her cases.
It is the most unprofessional thing I have ever seen. Brenda Bursch has been involved in at least 9 MBP Arizona cases and was brought up on charges of practicing medicine in Arizona without a license. She has also been involved in multiple clinical research trials. (Story here.)
Los Angeles mother Jewels Stein had her daughter medically kidnapped because a psychologist labeled her with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy/Fictitious Disease. Interview here.
Los Angeles mother Jewels Stein, a paramedic and film producer, also lost custody of her child primarily due to testimony of doctors:
I hate Munchausen by proxy. I have been doing a lot of research on this, there is a specialist named Helen Hayward Brown, from Australia, who is the biggest advocate against Fictitious Disease and Munchausen by proxy. Helen Hayward Brown she is a doctor out of Australia, she is an expert witness against these cases.
There is a person at UCLA and I’ve since heard that UCLA has made a habit of looking at these cases predominantly because they have a doctor there named Doctor Brenda Bursch, who is also the doctor who testified in Justina Pellitier’s case, who has written books on Fictitious Disorder and has made a habit of going after parents.
She is the expert witness against the parents when it comes to Munchausen or Fictitious Disorder.
One of the things that Dr. Hayward Brown brought up, it is disheartening to me, it paints the characteristics of the mother that has Munchausen or Fictitious Disorder and it says here that the mother makes complaints about medical negligence, that the parent asks too many questions about the child’s medical care and the parent seeks a second opinion.
So, yes, I did ask a lot of questions about my daughter’s medical care, and I did seek a second opinion. It is disheartening to me because it presents a pretty scary situation and it even talks to that the parents are too assertive and they become involved in their child’s care.
In this day and age, I came from being a paramedic in a man’s world, I had to be assertive, it’s my nature, it’s my character, it’s who I am… It’s presenting a bad situation where parents are going to be afraid to go forth and afraid to ask questions and afraid to take their children to the doctors.
Once you are branded with this Munchausen by proxy or Fictitious Disorder, which is what they say in the juvenile court system, you are guilty until proven innocent. I told my public defender, how do you prove innocence from something that is fictitious? It is fictitious in every way, it’s not just fictitious disorder, it is made up and it’s basically a witch hunt against parents who give doctors problems.
The thing I found out when I was at UCLA, when Dr. Grace Deukmedjian started yelling at me and started to be inappropriate, I asked for a medical liaison, every hospital has one. A medical liaison is someone that comes and deals between the doctor and the parent.
What I didn’t know until I left, is that Brenda Bursch is that hospital liaison. So when you call and you’re in trouble and you’re worried sick about your kid and you are arguing with the doctor. You want to have some say here comes Brenda Bursch and she is your friend, but she is not.  I was very fortunate she was testifying against another parent across country. (Story and interview here.)

“Best Interest of the Child” Now Means “Child Trafficking”

In reporting on these Medical Kidnapping stories for 3 years now, we have observed that the concept of “best interest of the child” has come to mean what the government determines is the “best interest” for the child, and who they determine is best suited to be the parents of that child.
This is simply legal “child trafficking,” and if you think we are over-exaggerating this horrible situation, we encourage you to read our investigative reports on legal child trafficking happening every day throughout the United States:

The U.S. Foster Care System: Modern Day Slavery and Child Trafficking

Child Kidnapping and Trafficking: A Lucrative U.S. Business Funded by Taxpayers Called “Foster Care”

There are multiple reasons why this is happening in the United States today, and current laws protect the child traffickers. For more information on why this is happening, see:

Medical Kidnapping in the U.S. – Kidnapping Children for Drug Trials

Child Sex Trafficking through Child “Protection” Services Exposed – Kidnapping Children for Sex

From Child Protection to State-sponsored Child Kidnapping: How Did we Get Here?

Judge Peter B. Swann’s opinion in this current case seems like a breath of fresh air to us, as he establishes the fact that being an imperfect parent is not grounds for abusing one’s constitutional right to parent:
Adoptability is a commonly proven benefit of severance, but it is not on its own sufficient to overcome a parent’s constitutional rights. Lawrence R. v. Ariz. Dep’t of Econ. Sec., 217 Ariz. 585, 588, ¶ 11 (App. 2008) (holding that adoptability does not equate to best interests)
The Department must show that there is a substantial likelihood that the parent will not be capable of parenting effectively in the near future, not that someone with better parenting skills may be able to care for the child. See Roberto F., 232 Ariz. at 53, ¶ 38 n.11.
If a parent’s ability to parent the children has been established by parent-aide services, there is a bond between the children and parent, and the parent has attained a safe and stable living situation, then the children’s adoptability, household stability, and the ability of their current placements to meet their needs are subordinate to the fundamental rights of the parent in determining best interests, unless severance removes a detriment caused by the parental relationship.
A parent’s rights should be preserved “when the parent grasps the opportunity [to reunify with a child] quickly, diligently, and persistently” and without failure. In re Pima Cty. Juvenile Severance Action No. S-114487, 179 Ariz. 86, 101 (1994).

Problems in Arizona: All Foster Children Now Part of Class Action Lawsuit Against the State

Image by Children’s Rights, an non-profit group that is one of the groups representing the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Arizona by Foster Children.
As we have reported many times here at Health Impact News, statistics clearly show that children put into the foster care system suffer from abuse and harm far more often than they do if left in “troubled” homes. See:

Foster Care Children are Worse Off than Children in Troubled Homes – The Child Trafficking Business

In 2015 a federal class-action lawsuit was filed against the directors of the Arizona Department of Children’s Services and the Department of Health Services by ten foster children in Arizona.
The children in the lawsuit are represented by the groups Children’s Rights, the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interestand Phoenix law firm Coppersmith Brockelman PLC.
In October of 2017, U. S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver granted class-action status in the litigation against the state, and expanded the class from 10 foster children to all 17,000 children currently in foster care in Arizona.
Arizona has the highest rate of children taken out of their homes and put into foster care of any other state in the U.S. Are we to conclude from these statistics that Arizona has the worst parents in the United States warranting such a high rate of removal?

Ultimate Solution is to Repeal Laws – End Federal Funding for Foster Care and Adoption


While this ruling in Arizona is a step in the right direction, we must note that the Arizona appellate court was bound by current laws that give Child Protection social services, such as Arizona Department of Child Safety, authority to operate.
And as this ruling and opinion show, even within the limits of their own laws, children are being illegally kidnapped from their families because of widespread corruption.
The greater constitutional issues of the very existence of these social services that abuse parental rights, often with complicit law enforcement, is addressed here:

Does the State Ever Have a “Right” to Remove Children from a Home?

We agree with the late Georgia Senator Nancy Schaefer, who fought hard to expose the corruption in Child Protection Services, and who declared that the system was too corrupt to fix, and needed to be abolished.

Senator Nancy Schaefer: Did her Fight Against CPS Child Kidnapping Cause her Murder?

Former Director for the Baltimore City Department of Social Services Molly McGrath Tierney has expressed similar sentiments: