Suspects arrested in Child Abuse case that “shocks the soul”
MESA, AZ – Two people have been arrested in connection to a severe child abuse case that police say “shocks the soul.”
The Mesa Police Department says a 3-year-old girl was found in a trash bag, covered in feces, duct-taped and hidden in a closet. The girl’s mother, Mayra Solis and her friend, Fransisco Javier Rios-Covarrubias, have been arrested.
According to police, Solis would leave the girl with Covarrubias at his home while she was at work, and he would put the girl in a closet for hours, and possibly days at a time. The child was found by police after a man, who Covarrubias met online, went to the suspect’s home and was offered the girl for sexual activities.
“@mesapd says mother of 3yo found bound in closet had shaved head of daughter to pander for money, claiming she had cancer. Mom is homeless.” — Liz Kotalik (@LizKotalik) January 19, 2016
Police also say the girl’s head was shaved because Solis pandered her for money and claimed she had cancer.
Covarrubias has been charged with sex trafficking, kidnapping, sexual conduct with a minor and child abuse. Solis is facing child abuse charges.
Child Abuse growing problem in CNY, center saw over 700 cases this year
SYRACUSE, NY – Several recent high-profile cases have brought attention to the problem of child abuse in Central New York.
We’re learning more details about the abuse suffered by Eli MacDowell. The 9-year-old was allegedly slammed to the ground by Corey Pilcher last month, causing him to suffer severe brain trauma that put him into a coma.
Pilcher is also accused of abusing Eli’s sister. According to the Auburn Citizen, court documents show Pilcher poured hot sauce into the girl’s mouth and taped it shut after he says she was too loud while watching television.
Eli is now recovering after several surgeries, including one to remove a portion of his skull.
The boy’s tragedy is not the only case of child abuse to make the headlines this week.
On Thursday, Stephen Howells and Nicole Vaisey were sentenced in what the U.S. Attorney’s Office described as one of the most horrific cases of child abuse they have ever seen.
Howells and Vaisey received a total of 880 years in prison after admitting they sexually assaulted six children, including two Amish girls they kidnapped from a roadside farm stand in St. Lawrence County in 2014.
Before the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Lisa Fletcher said more cases are expected to come forward. Adding Howells and Vaisey are not the first in the area to sexually exploit children and they would not be last.
Every year, more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the U.S., according to a non-profit group called ChildHelp.
In 2010, more than 79,000 children in New York were abused or neglected, according to the State’s Central register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.
The McMahon Child Advocacy Center saw more than 700 kids this year in their center for child abuse and had 6,500 hotline calls.
At the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse believe one child is too many when it comes to child abuse.
Jami Ryan, who represents the center, says it is shocking how many victims from Central New York walk through their door.
She said: In the year 2014, the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center saw over 700 kids. We had 6,500 hotline calls, so, absolutely the numbers are there.
Ryan explained that over 90 percent of the cases they see at the center involve a child who has been sexually abused by someone they know, love and trust.
She said: A lot of times when we see these kids, it can kind of be a confusing situation. Maybe they know what has happened is not right, it might have made them feel uncomfortable, but at the same time, it can be a little confusing because it is usually happening by someone who they know.
How can we combat this growing issues?
Ryan says it starts with awareness — Knowing the signs and symptoms of child abuse and reporting it is critical.
For example: Maybe an adult that they used to pick them up from school that they were happy to see, they’re not really wanting to go home with anymore.
Being aware of any changes or behavior can really make all the difference.
The center has an outreach program where members from the center go out to schools across Onondaga County talking to children on how to be safe and how to alert someone they trust if something is not right.
Federal judge finds Texas has “broken” foster care system, says she’ll order changes
AUSTIN, TX – Long-term foster care in Texas is “broken” and routinely does grave harm to children already dealt a tough hand, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack of Corpus Christi said the state violated the Constitution by keeping about 12,000 youngsters for years in an underfunded and poorly run system “where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication and instability are the norm.”
Defendants John Specia and his staff at the state Department of Family and Protective Services have “the best intentions, she wrote. ” But the system, despite 20 years of reports and attempted fixes, keeps harming the children it’s supposed to help”, the stinging opinion reads.
Jack, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, ruled in favor of nine children who sued the state in 2011 on behalf of all Texas children in long-term foster care.
Their lawyers, who included members of the Dallas-based Haynes and Boone firm, said Texas’ foster care system forces thousands of youngsters to live in poorly supervised institutions. The department frequently moves the children from one place to another and often splits up siblings, plaintiffs said.
Jack agreed, saying Texas routinely violates the children’s 14th Amendment rights to be free from harm while in state custody.
Julie Moody, a spokeswoman for the protective-services department, said it’s disappointed with Jack’s ruling. The state has insisted that plaintiffs’ lawyers have ignored recent improvements that followed the Legislature’s sweeping changes to Child Protective Services in 2005, along with an overhaul of foster care two years later. They also repeatedly boosted the agency’s budget — Texas current spends $1.4 billion a year on Child Protective Services.
“Texas performs comparably with other states in this area, and has steadily improved,” she said.
While Texas fiercely contested the suit, officials didn’t immediately say whether they would appeal Jack’s ruling.
The case centers on children removed from their birth homes by Child Protective Services who then linger for at least a year, sometimes 18 months, in foster care. Because CPS and its contractors have been unable to reunite them with their birth families or find a lasting home with relatives or an adoptive parent, the youngsters are in limbo.
Even though judges work to try to avoid it, many children then enter CPS’ “permanent managing conservatorship.” At that point, the state often drops the ball because the law does not require that the children have their own lawyer and another adult advocating for them, plaintiffs argued – and Jack agreed.
She found that CPS has too few conservatorship caseworkers, so their huge caseloads cause them to fail to pay enough attention to their charges.
“Texas’ foster care system is broken, and it has been that way for decades,” Jack wrote. “It is broken for all stakeholders, including DFPS employees who are tasked with impossible workloads. Most importantly, though, it is broken for Texas’ [permanent managing conservatorship] children, who almost uniformly leave state custody more damaged than when they entered.”
Jack said that within 30 days, she would appoint a special master to develop a sweeping plan for improvements.
The cost to the state is uncertain but likely to be in the millions. CPS has authority to employ more than 9,200 people, though turnover is a chronic problem, as the judge noted.
Jack said she’ll ask the special master to recommend how many more CPS workers should be hired and how many more child-care licensing inspectors should be added.
She’s requiring each child in long-term care to have an attorney ad litem as well as a court-appointed special advocate.
The judge also said the special master will study “child-on-child abuse” at group homes and treatment centers. The master will push for the state to move children who do not have severe physical or behavioral impairments into the least restrictive settings possible.
CPS also would have to improve case files it keeps on the children – including annual photos, to help in identifying runaways. The state also will have to stop placing certain foster children in unsafe placements like “foster group homes that lack 24-hour awake-night supervision,” Jack said.
Marcia Robinson Lowry, the founder of New York-based Children’s Rights, which led the effort and has filed similar suits in more than a dozen states, called Jacks’ decision “stunning” and painstakingly researched.
“Texas certainly has one of the worse foster care systems in the country,” Lowry said.
Prior to 1978, as many as twenty-five to thirty-five percent of Native American children were removed from their parents for alleged neglect or abuse. The majority of these children were placed in non-Indian foster homes, adoptive homes, and institutions.
In 1978, Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to reduce the number of Native American children removed from their homes. Congress recognized, “There is no resource that is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children,” and “that an alarmingly high percentage of Indian families are broken up by the removal, often unwarranted, of their children from them by nontribal public and private agencies.
” To reduce inappropriate removal of Indian children from their homes, ICWA provides that only tribal courts can decide abuse and neglect cases involving children whose permanent residence is a reservation.
For Indian children who do not live on a reservation, state juvenile courts can make decisions about removal, but the child’s tribe must be notified, and the tribe has the right to intervene in the case.
Resource – A Short History of Child Protection in America – ABA PDF
Authorities have doubled a reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspected child molester with Dallas ties.
Donald Jack Robertson II, 43, is accused of sexually assaulting two children in 2011 in Lamar County, records show. He faces charges of indecency and sexual assault of a child.
A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information leading to his arrest.
Robertson has connections to Dallas and Paris, Texas. His last known address was on Summerwood Circle in far northeast Dallas.
He is described as 6-foot-1, 160 pounds and has a tattoo of a fist holding a lightning bolt on his upper left arm. He also has a scar on his right wrist. He has an interest in online gaming.
Officials said Robertson should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-252-8477 or submit a tip via Facebook.
UPDATE – Featured Most Wanted Fugitive Arrested in Oregon
AUSTIN, TX – Donald Jack Robertson II, 43, a Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitive and November’s featured fugitive, is now in custody after being captured on Nov. 23 in Portland, Oregon.
Robertson had been wanted since 2011 for aggravated sexual assault of a child, sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child-sexual contact. The arrest was the result of tip information, and a reward up to $10,000 will be paid.
Working off tip information, the U.S. Marshals Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force coordinated with the U.S. Marshals Service-District of Oregon to locate and arrest Robertson at a residence in Portland. Since the arrest was the result of tip information and the tip was received during the month that Robertson was featured, the increased reward of up to $10,000 (originally $5,000) will be paid.
So far in 2015, DPS and other agencies have arrested 28 Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitives and Sex Offenders, including 19 sex offenders, and $79,000 in rewards have been paid for tips that resulted in arrests.
One offender from the Texas 10 Most Wanted Program is featured each month in hopes the higher reward money from the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division will generate additional tips.