TX Woman Charged With Felony Child Abuse

.jpg photo of Woman charged with Child Abuse
Deborah Anne Whitehead, 34

Tuscola woman indicted for confining
children, stabbing another

TUSCOLA, TX  –  A Taylor County deputy’s suspicions of abuse were raised when he found three children walking a dog in the middle of a highway near Tuscola at about 1 a.m. on one August day.

He would then learn that those children were running away from a parent who they say locked them in a closet without food, water, or the ability to go to the bathroom in order to punish them.

That parent, 34-year-old Deborah Anne Whitehead, is now facing felony charges of aggravated assault and injury to a child after being indicted Thursday.

It happened on Aug. 18, 2015, according to court records filed in Taylor County.

The deputy was traveling on Hwy 83 when he found the children.

One of the children told the deputy that they had escaped from their mother’s home after their sister fell asleep and forgot to lock the door.  They said they were going to their father’s house because their mother “was mean to them,” according to the documents.

The deputy went to Whitehead’s house in Tuscola and found a padlock on the inside of the door that the children’s sister would use to confine them inside, according to a warrant.

Court documents say that the deputy discovered that Whitehead would become upset with the children and “lock them in a small closet within the residence and leave them there without food, water, or restroom facilities.”  One of the children, a 10-year-old boy, said he would be locked up for long periods of time and that he could hear his sister screaming when bugs would crawl on her while she was confined.

The children’s sister, whose name is being withheld because she has not been charged with a crime, was interviewed by authorities and confirmed what the children had said.

The sister then told investigators that during an altercation in late March, Whitehead got mad at her and stabbed her in the hip with a knife.  Authorities found the knife and noted a scar on the sister’s hip where she said she had been stabbed, according to the warrant.  Two of the three children said they witnessed part of the assault.

Investigators pieced together the case and Deborah Whitehead was arrested on Feb. 22 on two felony charges.  She was released from the Taylor County Jail the same day on bonds totaling $30,000.

TX Man Arrested For Child Pornography

.jpg photo of man arrested for Child Pornography
Jarrett Palitza, 22, of Adkins Texas

Texas Attorney General:  Man arrested on 6 counts of child pornography possession

A 22-year-old Adkins man was arrested Thursday for allegedly having multiple images of child pornography, including at least one image of a 10-year-old girl, the Office of the Texas Attorney General said Friday.

Jarrett Ray Dwayne Palitza was formally charged on six counts of possession of child pornography after investigators with the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) conducted a warrant-approved search of his residence in Adkins, which is about 21 miles east of San Antonio.

The CEU became involved initially as assistance to the Sealy Police Department regarding a case of sexual assault of a girl, 10, along with the possibility of a potential possession and distribution of child porn, according to a news release issued Friday.

The search led investigators to Palitza’s home, where child pornography was allegedly discovered.  One of the images was of the 10-year-old girl believed to be involved in the Sealy Police Department case, according to the news release.

“One more dangerous individual is off the streets and behind bars thanks to the efforts of the Child Exploitation Unit and the Sealy Police Department,” Paxton said in a news release.  “My office will remain steadfast in protecting our children and our communities from the heinous acts of these child predators and continue seeking justice against them.”

We Appreciate You Even More Sue

.jpg photo of Mother arrested for Child Abuse
Katrina Flores-Kennedy, 27

Woman In Video That Went Viral Faces More Serious Child Abuse Charge

LOCHBUIE, CO  –  A Denver woman who allegedly abused her child in an incident that was captured on home video appeared in court on Friday.

Weld County officials announced the arrest of Katerina Kennedy-Flores, 27, early Thursday afternoon.  She was originally charged with two counts of child abuse, a Class 2 misdemeanor, however one of the charges was increased to child abuse causing injury, a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Police arrested Kennedy-Flores in Denver on Wednesday, more than two weeks after the video was allegedly made in the Weld County town of Lochbuie, about 30 miles northeast of Denver.

The 16-minute-long video, which was shot by Kennedy-Flores’ roommate while she still lived in Lochbuie last month, spread across social media.  It shows a young boy screaming and crying while the alleged abuse took place. Kennedy-Flores is seen shouting obscenities at and acting aggressively towards the child.

Court documents indicate the boy was left with multiple bruises from his mother’s attacks.  The mother hits the child and throws things at him in the video.

Her bond was set at $3,000 and a protection order says she can’t have any contact with the boy or anyone under 18.

NE Toddlers Leg Broken At Unlicensed Daycare

'jpg photo of Daycare playground equipment
Toddlers Leg Broken At Unlicensed Daycare

Nebraska Daycare provider charged with
Child Abuse

ASHLAND, NE  –  An Ashland woman running an in-home daycare could be facing jail time after an incident that left a baby with a broken leg.  According to authorities that daycare was not licensed.

A 4-month-old baby was inside a car seat, not buckled in when that car seat fell to the ground.

That baby is expected be OK, but the daycare provider, Sabrina Cowsky, is now charged with felony child abuse.

Aside from child abuse, Cowsky is being charged with false reporting and operating a daycare without a license.  Per state law, once a daycare exceeds three children a license is required.

Authorities estimate, Cowsky was caring for roughly a dozen kids at the time of the incident.  Ashland Chief of Police Joe Baudler said he is still trying to understand why a parent might take their kids to an unlicensed daycare.

“You know, with kids, myself, I’ve taken them to daycare, you know, I was concerned about the person watching the kid, than I was whether they had a license or not,” said Baudler.

WOWT 6 News was unable to contact Cowsky, but did speak with family and neighbors.  Everyone WOWT 6 News talked to, spoke very fondly of not only Cowsky, but the victim’s parents as well. They said they think this boils down to just a really unfortunate accident.

The accident left a child with a broken leg and according to the Saunders County Attorney Steven Twohig the accident is exactly why state oversight exists.

“It’s not the controlling factor, I mean, things still happen in licensed daycare, as well, that are sad and unfortunate, but at the same time, it’s the more regulation, the less likelihood that something will occur,” said Twohig.

Sabrina Cowsky’s first appearance in court will be June 16th at 9 a.m. in Saunders County.  If she’s found guilty of all child abuse, operating without a license and false reporting, she could be facing up to 4 years in jail and almost $12,000 in fines.

42,000 PA Child Abuse Calls Unanswered

.jpg Photo of Child Abuse graphic
42,000 PA Child Abuse Calls Unanswered

Audit blasts Pennsylvania’s Child Abuse
hotline

A scathing report from Pennsylvania‘s auditor general indicates one in every five calls to the state’s child abuse hotline is likely to go unanswered.

Thousands of children across the commonwealth could have been left in dangerous situations because of severe deficiencies at ChildLine, the state hotline for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect, according to Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

ChildLine, which is operated by the Department of Human Services, began in 1975.  In the past few years, sweeping changes to the Child Protective Services Law have meant increased call volumes at ChildLine, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Among the findings of an audit conducted by DePasquale’s office:

  • 22 percent of all calls in 2015 went unanswered.
  • ChildLine was constantly understaffed in 2015.
  • Nearly one-third of all calls received in 2014 and 2015 were not tracked or documented.
  • Supervisors monitored an extremely small number of calls — only seven, or 0.005 percent — in 2015.

DePasquale didn’t even wait until the audit was finished to release his report.

“While strengthening laws to combat child abuse was a critical achievement, not providing the funding to enforce those laws was a disturbing failure,” DePasquale said in a news release.  “Our report shows the results of that failure — 42,000 unanswered calls in 2015.

The critical problems our audit team has found so far simply cannot wait even another few months until this audit is finished.

“I’m sounding the alarm as early as I can on these issues, because even one unanswered phone call means there could be a child in a life-threatening situation who needs help,” he said.  “The ChildLine system hasn’t been functioning in a way that leaves me any confidence that a child can get help when it is needed.”

Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas responded to the audit report by outlining steps his agency is taking to fix the high rate of unanswered calls.

Dallas said added staff has reduced the unanswered call rate to 12 percent, and he said he expects to lower that to 4 percent in the coming weeks.

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