Elmwood Park Special Education teacher charged in alleged Child Abuse
Elmwood Park, NJ – A special education teacher at an Elmwood Park elementary school has been charged with child abuse and simple assault and released after posting bail, authorities said Monday.
Ashley Frabizzio, 30, of Butler, was arrested Saturday after an investigation that started last Thursday, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said in a statement. Molinelli said the investigation began when detectives of the Elmwood Park Police Department were notified by an administrator of the Sixteenth Avenue Elementary School of allegations against Frabizzio.
No details were provided concerning where or when the abuse was alleged to have occurred, or the relationship between Frabizzio and the children allegedly affected.
Molinelli said the investigation was conducted jointly by his office’s Special Victims Unit and the Elmwood Park Police.
Frabizzio was charged with two counts of fourth-degree child abuse and two counts of simple assault, a disorderly persons offense.
Municipal Court Judge Anthony Gallina set bail at $2,500, and ordered Frabizzio released when she posted 10 percent of the bail.
He also ordered that she have no contact with the alleged victims, the school or school personnel.
Wetumpka case prompts DA to seek stronger child-abuse punishment
WETUMPKA, AL – District Attorney Randall Houston wants to strengthen the penalty for aggravated child abuse, bringing the punishment up to par with murder and other violent crimes.
Houston’s move would change the punishment in aggravated Child Abuse cases where victims are under the age of 6.
“The aggravated Child Abuse statute covers children from infants to 18-year-olds,” Houston said. “It’s obvious that a teenager is better able to seek protection from an abuser than a child under the age of 6.”
“These are our youngest, most helpless victims. After a child is 6, they are usually in a school situation, where educators can recognize the signs of abuse.”
Houston represents the 19th Judicial Circuit, which includes Autauga, Chilton and Elmore counties. Currently, aggravated child abuse is a Class B felony, with a punishment range of two to 20 years in prison. Houston will be backing a bill in the 2016 legislative session that begins in February to stiffen the penalty to a Class A felony. Murder, attempted murder and other violent crimes are Class A felonies, with a punishment range of 10 to 99 years to life in prison.
By law, aggravated child abuse results in “serious bodily injury” to the victim.
A current case being investigated by his office moved Houston to seek the punishment upgrade.
“I stood in court last week to oppose a bond request made by a mother who, along with her boyfriend, heinously abused her 4-year-old son to a point that he was near death,” Houston said. “As I looked that defendant in the eye and thought of the ways she and her boyfriend had abused her own son, I realized that the current penalties for such monstrous acts are inadequate and must be toughened so those who commit them can stare at the four cold walls of a prison cell for the rest of their lives.”
Houston was referring to the case of Hallee Ann McLeod, 28, of Wetumpka, whose son was found unresponsive and injured in the back of a car in Panama City, Fla., in September. She is facing aggravated child abuse and chemical endangerment of a child charges in Elmore County, courthouse records show.
Last week Elmore County District Judge Glenn Goggans refused to lower her bond, which had been set at $300,000. She remained in the Elmore County Jail on Monday, jail records show.
Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin, who has been the county’s top cop for 24 years, calls the abuse “one of the worst cases I have seen.”
The child was discovered by Bay County, Fla., deputies as the car was parked in the courthouse parking lot. Scott Hicks, McLeods’ boyfriend, had driven to Panama City, Fla., to pay fines on an unrelated case. Local authorities were contacted by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and an investigation began that showed the abuse of the boy occurred in Elmore County, Franklin said.
“Nothing can erase the trauma that this child suffered, but we can ensure that the severity of the penalty truly matches the severity of the crime,” Houston said. “Then perhaps justice can be fully obtained.
“As a prosecutor I take my responsibility to ensure the protection of the most defenseless among us very seriously, and toughening our aggravated child abuse law will held accomplish this mission.”
Houston has been successful in efforts to toughen punishments. After a series of alcohol related fatal boating accidents in the circuit, he fought a three-year battle to get the Legislature to toughen the homicide by vessel law.
The law was an unclassified felony, meaning it had a maximum punishment of five years in prison. The punishment for homicide by vessel law now allows prosecutors to seek the same punishment as cases of DUI related motor vehicle accidents. That means defendants can be charged with manslaughter or murder in DUI related boating accidents that result in fatalities.
Houston hopes the strengthening of the aggravated child abuse law doesn’t take as much time.
“We are in it for the long haul,” he said. “If it takes another long fight, we’re dedicated to doing whatever it takes to see this change implemented.”
Walker, MN – The Family Safety Network and the Village Square once again partnered with each other last Thursday night to host the Family Fun Pizza Night.
The event is part of the 27th Annual Radiothon to End Child Abuse, an event of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting that raises money and awareness of child abuse and local resources available to the community. The funds go to help end child abuse and neglect in Minnesota and for local counties of Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater and Hubbard. These include the Leech Lake Reservation Children’s Initiative and the Family Safety Network.
The Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Student Council also held a Change for Child Abuse fundraiser leading up to the Radiothon. The seventh- through 12th-grade classes donated $764.39, with the senior class winning the class competition with $440.
“We thought this would be a great cause and to get the students to realize what change they can make by giving a few cents,” said Maizee Freeman of the WHA Student Council. “I was blown away by how successful it was. We didn’t know how it was going to go over, but we were going to try.”
Shelby Short, another student council member, said they started collecting the change back in November, and will do this again next year.
Both Freeman and Short attended the Family Pizza Night so they could pass along the money raised by the senior high classes.
There are about 40 students part of student council with teacher Paul Schroeder serving as the advisor.
Hayford Racing of Walker, a cross-country snowmobile racing team, is purchasing all the pizzas for the senior class, which were brought up to the school Monday for lunch.
The Pizza Night brought in $1,624.61 for a total of $2,389.39. A total of $37,000 was raised during this year’s Radiothon to fight child abuse.
The Walker event featured celebrity waiters from the Cass County Sheriff Office, including Sheriff Tom Burch and some deputies, and the administration of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School.
Village Square owners Gary and Theresa Bilben donated a $1 for every pizza ordered that evening along with all tips the celebrity wait staff collected.
All proceeds from Pizza Night and WHA School fundraiser directly benefit communities, as the funds stay local and help support the Family Safety Network programming and services.
Pledges were also collected throughout the 24-hour period, and a live, on-air auction was held.
Since the Radiothon started 1989, nearly $1,050,000 has been raised since the Radiothon began.
Legislation on child abuse reporting draws concerns from Dane County social workers
NOT IN MY WORLD!!!! believes every call of Child Maltreatment should be reported to Law Enforcement first, and all investigations be made by Law Enforcement only.
Only with Law Enforcement involved in every case will we begin to see an end of the corruption within CPS.
Wisconsin legislation that would change how child abuse and neglect cases are handled is drawing sharp disagreement between Dane County prosecutors, law enforcement officials and social services providers about what is best for children.
Introduced by Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, in October, and garnering bipartisan support since, the package of bills would clarify the definition of child neglect, designate a specific crime of repeated acts of neglect or physical abuse of the same child and require social services agencies to report all allegations of child abuse or neglect to law enforcement, among other components.
Legislators, prosecutors and law enforcement officials pushing for the changes say they do not currently have enough tools to charge adults for certain situations of child neglect or abuse, including cases where children are exposed to the dealing or manufacturing of illegal narcotics.
Social services providers conversely argue the changes — particularly requirements involving reports to law enforcement — could have a chilling effect on cases reported, lead to increased trauma for families and create an unfunded burden on law enforcement.
“We have a wonderful system in Dane County by which we protect kids, but we try to keep the situation from re-traumatizing kids and families,” said Dane County Human Services director Lynn Green, who was a social worker in Child Protective Services early in her career. “A lot of what we try to do is reach out, help people make the parenting changes they need to make, educate them while we keep the kids safe.”
Currently, there is a memorandum of understanding in place between Dane County Human Services and county law enforcement agencies that lays out which cases will be reported to law enforcement. In addition to cases of sexual abuse, which providers are required to report under state law, the agreement includes reporting cases of physical abuse, emotional abuse and threat of harm.
Right now, Green said, about 40 percent of cases the department receives get referred to law enforcement and they work together on the case.
“If there is a feeling that some of the cases that should go aren’t going, we can amend that,” said Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan. “But to send all cases to law enforcement I’m concerned will have an unintended consequence.”
Some reporters call the county when they feel there’s a family in need. They are not mandated to report and can remain anonymous. If law enforcement gets involved, Green said, their name will have to go on a police report. She said callers may also hesitate to report concerns if they know a law enforcement official will knock on the door.
“We’re concerned it’s actually going to stem the number of calls we get and our possibility of intervening with families and being able to serve them,” Green said.
Green said they are also concerned about the trauma inflicted when law enforcement gets involved with families — especially of color and in high-risk neighborhoods.
In Dane County, a black parent is at least seven times more likely to be referred to Child Protective Services than a white parent, raising concerns about the legislation disproportionately affecting communities of color.
“Many of the parents that come into the Child Protective Services system have themselves been impacted by trauma in their own childhoods, and that trauma has affected their functioning, their brain development, to the point where when they’re confronted with authority or people trying to impose rules on them, they can come across as sounding very oppositional,” said Dane County Child Protective Services manager Julie Ahnen. “The idea that we’re going to change their behavior by increasing their involvement in the criminal justice system is just backward.”
The Dane County Board Executive Committee passed a resolution on a voice vote Thursday evening opposing the state legislation with those concerns in mind, as well as the concern that it will create additional case burden on law enforcement agencies without funding it.
Unlike this legislation, a series of child protection reforms in Minnesota recently signed into law also allocated $52 million to hire more workers and expand services for abused children.
“I recognize that some of these changes might be difficult to implement, but I don’t want to see cases of child neglect continue to go to unreported or unaddressed in our community,” said Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, who introduced similar legislation last session and is a sponsor of this package.
Shilling said she doesn’t want there to be an unintended consequence or chilling effect but wants prosecutors to be able to address issues like child exposure to the dealing or manufacturing of illegal narcotics.
“So how do we make sure the process and definitions are something that, again, help prosecutors have the tools they need to properly charge adults with the situation that innocent children are placed in,” Shilling said.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne has testified at hearings in support of the legislation. He did not respond to a request for comment. Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney declined a request for comment. The Madison Police Department emailed a statement calling the actions of the bill’s sponsors “laudable” in working to protect children but also acknowledging the concerns of social workers.
The Association of State Prosecutors, the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, the Wisconsin District Attorneys Association, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association and the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association all have registered in support of the bill on required reporting.
Dane County, the Wisconsin Counties Association, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families and the Wisconsin Association of Family and Children’s Agencies all oppose it.
Multiple Dane County legislators who initially signed on as cosponsors for the legislation have since withdrawn their support for the bill requiring reporting to law enforcement, including Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, and Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison.