Archive for child abuse

When It’s Child Abuse It’s Never Too Late

The statute of limitations has been met, simply meaning no criminal charges can be filed from that point forward, but for at least a few men justice exceeds punishment. So far, five men have come forward to claim child abuse charges and they hope that the expiration of criminal litigation doesn’t mean an expiration on getting justice.

Stories like the one from the Greenwich Time broke in early March, reporting the allegations made by these men, now in their late 40’s to early 50’s in a suit filed against the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich. According to the filings, the abuse occurred from 1975 to 1984, during which time multiple acts of abuse allegedly took place.

According to court documents, one of the primary perpetrators of the abuse was Andrew Atkinson, who was a member of the club that later became a counselor. Based on the allegations, Atkinson abused the boys as a member and that abuse became more severe once he acquired a leadership role. While the charges are disturbing, to say the least, Atkinson has made a statement and claims to be innocent of any and all charges in the civil suit.

The Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich has also stepped forward to assure children, parents and the public that they actively take and continue to take every necessary precaution to protect their children. Based on statements made by the club, they employ cameras, background checks and other measures to ensure the safety of the children. That is great news today but what about these men? What about all the cases of yesterday?

A well-known fact about child abuse stated in another story said, “… most incidents involving the sexual abuse of a minor go unreported.” These brave men, all these years later, are not letting their unheard reports as children continue to go unheard. If found guilty, these alleged crimes won’t receive a criminal penalty due to the aforementioned statute of limitations. What will happen, however, is that they will be acknowledged and the voices of those children will finally be heard.

We can’t undo a crime, but we can listen, we can make it better and hopefully, we can heal.

Mother Who Gave Methadone to Baby had a History of Abuse and Neglect

The Oregon Department of Human Services may be found culpable for failing to protect two children from the same family: a teenage girl who died in 2016 and a baby who was injured this past November. The children’s mother, 34-year-old Magan McDermott, is also accused of playing a contributing role in both tragedies.

McDermott’s five-month old baby was injured and may have suffered life-altering injuries after his mother gave him methadone to try to get him to sleep. McDermott lost custody of her son when he was only seven weeks old and was found to have ingested narcotics.

After that incident the baby’s father, Francisco Yvanez Diaz Jr., was given custody of the child. He took the baby to McDermott’s sister’s house, and was with both women at the time of the incident. Diaz is on probation after being convicted of assault against McDermott in 2017. The fact that he was granted custody of the baby despite his criminal record has raised questions from the attorney representing the baby’s interests.

After McDermott gave the baby the drug he lost consciousness, had trouble breathing, and had an irregular heartbeat. Paramedics were called to the scene and gave the baby naloxone (Narcan) to revive him. He then spent two nights recovering in the hospital, and may face long-term health complications due to oxygen deprivation to his brain. He’s currently in foster care.

McDermott was arrested and is currently in the Benton County Jail after filing a not guilty plea. In addition to the criminal charges she faces a $900,000 lawsuit filed on behalf of her son.

In 2016 another of McDermott’s children, 15-year-old Gloria Joya, died while in foster care due to gastrointestinal issues that may have been at least partially caused by stress from her upbringing. The Oregon Department of Human Services removed her from McDermott’s care in 2015 after years of reported abuse and neglect.

The estate representing Gloria filed a 9.5 million dollar lawsuit against the state of Oregon alleging negligence in failing to recognize the severity of the girl’s condition. The Oregon Department of Human Serviced has also been criticized for the decision to place the baby in his father’s care given the father’s criminal history. The incident is still under investigation.

Family Awarded Nearly $50 Million Over 8-Year-Old Gizzell Ford Torture Killing

Chicago jurors were horrified in late 2017 by a torture death case in which an 8-year-old girl was consistently failed by her family, her medical doctor, and the child protection system. The Chicago Tribune reports the crime scene photos and injury reports shared with jurors during the five-day-long trial caused a halt in courtroom action as a juror sobbed uncontrollably.

In 2013, young Gizzell Ford was found strangled, brutally beaten and starved inside the Chicago apartment she shared with her father and paternal grandmother, Andre and Helen Ford. While her father died in 2014 while awaiting trial on related murder charges, her grandmother is now serving a life sentence for the torture killing, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

The wrongful death lawsuit culminated on Dec. 13, 2017 when the jury returned from a two-hour deliberation and awarded $48 million to the girl’s mother and family after finding well-known Chicago pediatrician Dr. Norell Rosado medically negligent in his treatment of the child in the weeks leading up to her 2013 murder. The pediatrician was tapped by the Department of Children and Family Services to evaluate the girl after an investigator received an abuse report initiated by Ford, who alleged molestation against the boyfriend of the girl’s mother.

“We just wanted justice for Gizzell, and in our eyes we got it,” said Sandra Mercado, the girl’s mother. “I just hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

During closing statements, Mercado’s attorney, Martin Dolan, said, “This child should never have gone through what she did. There are people in place who should’ve stopped this. Dr. Rosado failed to save her. He didn’t advocate for her. He didn’t protect her that day… It was like a green light for Helen Ford to do what she was going to do in the following weeks.”

The former honor student maintained a diary during her time with her father and grandmother. Just days before her death, she wrote of her own demise in the last entry: “I hate this life.”

Cook County’s insurance provider will likely pay out the nearly $50 million verdict, as Rosado was employed by the county’s hospital system at the time, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Adventist Church Hit with Lawsuit after Ignoring Teacher Abuse Claims

A lawsuit filed against the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the Seattle area claims the church ignored warnings for years about a teacher who was allegedly sexually abusing students and taught at the church’s schools in Washington and California.

The lawsuit was filed by the David Law Group of Seattle on behalf of victims of the abuse and says that the Seventh Day Adventists received a complaint about Douglas “John” Allison as early as December 2014 and the church ignored it.

The initial complaint followed an alleged incident in Crescent City, California, according to a document provided by the Del Norte Department of Health and Human Services. This incident involved Allison inappropriately touching a female student on multiple occasions and putting his hand down the front of her pants.

Allison was eventually arrested for sexual assault last year in a case separate from the incident in Crescent City. Allison, a principal and one of two teachers at Mountain View Christian School in Sequim, was accused of sexually assaulting two 10 year olds under his desk. According to police reports and the lawsuit, this happened when the other children in the class were distracted watching movies. He was convicted of the crime charged in the Sequim case and is now serving a 26-year prison sentence.

Also in the lawsuit filed in King County, church leaders in Washington and California are accused of having received reports from parents multiple times that showed concern for Allison’s inappropriate behavior of hugging and touching students at the schools. It is not clear what, if any, disciplinary actions or investigations of claims took place following any of the complaints or if any investigation followed the initial Crescent City complaint.

The church has not seen the lawsuit filing yet, which was filed on June 15, and is not making a comment at this time, according to Heidi Baumgartner, a spokesperson for the Western Corporation of the Seventh Day Adventists.

The victim’s family has asked for privacy and is not speaking publicly about the case, according to the Davis Law Group.

Parents are encouraged to communicate with their children about appropriate and inappropriate school behavior, and to report any incidents of abuse to the proper authorities.