Thursday, June 5, 2008

Social worker suspended after being accused of misconduct

Canandaigua, N.Y. -
An Ontario County Social Services worker has been suspended without pay after being accused of a romantic involvement with a man she was charged with investigating.

A complaint filed with the county claims that Child Protective Services worker Jill Winter investigated a domestic fight in which a man allegedly physically and verbally abused his ex-wife in front of their preschool son. Winter was in a relationship with the man, Eric Perryman, at the time, the complaint alleges.

Perryman, a Shortsville resident, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of second-degree harassment for that alleged incident on March 16. He is also accused of pushing a male neighbor who tried to stop the incident, which took place in his ex-wife’s Canandaigua apartment.

Perryman was sent to the Ontario County Jail and bailed out by a family member the same day. On April 7, he was jailed on a forgery charge accusing him of using the credit card of his ex-wife’s mother. He was jailed again and this time bailed out by Winter. Jail officials verified that Winter posted $5,000 cash on Perryman’s behalf on April 16.

Winter declined to comment and efforts to reach Perryman were unsuccessful.
The complaint about Winter, dated May 13, was filed by Perryman’s ex-wife, Patricia Perryman. She said Winter came to her home a day or two after the alleged attack to find out what happened.

“She’s ringing my doorbell telling me she’s from Child Protective Services, they want to make sure my son isn’t living in an abusive situation,” Patricia Perryman said of Winter. “She said, ‘You’re not under investigation, it’s your ex-husband.’ She was nice as pie, she was like sugar.”

Patricia Perryman said Winter sat on her living room couch while she shared the details of the alleged early-morning attack, in which she claims her son was awoken and screamed, “Daddy, stop it!, Daddy — no!”

About a week later, Patricia Perryman was told that the Child Protective Services worker had been seen around Canandaigua with her ex-husband.

Then she learned that Winter had posted his bail on the second arrest.

“I’m literally disgusted that she had the nerve to come to my house, sit in my living room and judge me and my son,” Patricia Perryman said. “She should have said ‘No, I can’t take this case, I have a conflict of interest.’ She did not do that. ... I don’t know how anybody would have such nerve.”

In the complaint, Patricia Perryman said Winter completed and closed her investigation into Eric Perryman with a letter, dated March 31, “saying it was unfounded.” No one from the county would verify that, and it’s not clear if the investigation is complete.

Then, in April, Patricia Perryman said Winter “made verbal threats” toward her and other relatives in front of county employees during a meeting at the Department of Social Services. Perryman requested the meeting with Winter and her supervisors.

Eileen Tiberio, the head of the Department of Social Services, said she could not discuss the matter since it is personnel related.

County attorney John Park said of Winter, “The caseworker in question has been suspended without pay and disciplinary proceedings are in process.”

John Garvey, the director of human resources for the county, said that investigations are conducted whenever the county receives complaints alleging employee misconduct. He said it’s something of standard procedure that “the employee is removed pending investigation.”

“If a complaint is founded, we have a process for corrective and disciplinary action,” he said.

As a union member, Winter is being represented by Civil Service Employees Association Labor Relations Specialist Bob Leonard, who would not comment on the case except to say, “it’s confidential until the resolution of the whole thing."

Patricia Perryman, meanwhile, said she now has a court order of protection barring Eric Perryman from contacting her or their son.

Jessica Pierce can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 250, or at jpierce@messengerpostmedia.com