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Old 06-17-2011, 04:35 AM  
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Children's Services

I just read this: Thomas James Ball Self-Immolated in Protest of the ?Justice? System - Free Keene

I have to agree, where kids are involved, the justice system is completely out of control.

My own story is far less tragic, but at least as egregious an assault on what Thomas James Ball speaks of as "the first set of books" - the rule of law we learn in school.

My own story begins when a local detective and a representative from the local version of Children's Services show up at my door.

Several "anonymous" complaints had been made. Included were a complaint that my fiance and I were neglecting her daughter ("step-daughter" in the rest of this post) and our daughter. Specifically, that our children went barefoot at times, and didn't wear socks at times, and that our house was filthy. The piece-de-resistance, though, were the claims that I had sexually abused my 4-year-old step-daughter.

The agent told me I could escort them around my house, answer some questions, and permit interviews of my children, or that we would be arrested and the children seized. The detective said nothing.

Having nothing to hide, and having a desire to put all this crap behind me, I consented.

I escorted the detective and the children's services agent around my house. The detective immediately recognized the claims of neglect were completely bogus. And they were. The house wasn't immaculate - we were in the middle of a remodeling project - but it wasn't a mess, there were clean clothes, clean dishes, plenty of food, and rambunctious toddlers who liked wandering around barefoot, losing their socks, and putting their shoes back on without them.

So, it was down to the sexual abuse complaint. The agent asked the embarrassingly infuriating questions about whether or not I was a pedophile. The detective noted my answers. I could tell she didn't want to be there, but couldn't figure out why. The agent then requested to interview my stepdaughter, outside of my presence, but with her mother in the room. I stepped outside; the detective accompanied me. We made small talk for awhile, and she made a point of informing me when she would have her report completed and when and how I could request a copy. I didn't understand why she made it abundantly clear that I should see the report.

The agent completed her interview, reported no indications of abuse to the detective. The detective left, but the agent wasn't done with us. First, she told us she would be questioning certain friends and family members. We gave out numbers and details.

Next, she wanted to set up an interview with my son, based on anonymous and unsubstantiated complaints made against us about our daughters. Around this time, I'd calmed down and started thinking about my rights and my kids' rights. Our kids hadn't been in the presence of many people we didn't trust, we hadn't had anyone over who could have legitimately reported our house a mess. Fewer still who could have seen and cared about our children going around barefoot or not wearing socks. My son hadn't been home in three weeks; he was spending summer vacation with his mother. So I ended it. I told her my entire line of reasoning, how the complaint couldn't possibly be legitimate. She indicated that she would report my non-compliance to her supervisor. I told her that my fiance wished for us to cooperate fully with the girls, which was the only reason I was cooperating at all, but that my fiance had no authority over my son, and that I flat-out refused to involve him in an anonymous and unsubstantiated complaint unless that complaint specifically mentioned him. I stated my intention to cooperate completely in any investigation of the actual complaint, but no further.

The agent called me some days later, informing me that my parents refused to cooperate with them and telling me that my then-underage brother was suspected of sexually abusing my daughter. Mind you, I was the only person named in that anonymous and unsubstantiated complaint, but because my step daughter mentioned a very common name during the interview, and my brother - among several people she knew - happened to have that same name, my brother was now a suspect and would be recorded as such in Children Services records.

I responded that I had no control over my parents and I felt she was trying to fabricate a case against me. I told her that I had given up custody of my son to my ex wife (who lived outside this agent's jurisdiction) because of the agent's repeated threats to take my kids.

I finally went down to the police station and picked up the report. That's when things became crystal clear.

A person had called up the local police station to make an anonymous report. Dispatch recorded every significant detail of this initial call. This person was the friend of the mother of the step-daughter's biological father. This person reported that my step daughter had reported this to the biological father who had reported all of this to the mother who reported all this to this person. None of the above had been in our home in years; some, including this person, had never been to our home.

The actual complaints included specific dates, and times of the alleged abuse. I had allegedly abused my step-daughter while we were vacationing two states away during the previous month. Upon returning, step-daughter had an afternoon visit with biological father, and allegedly gave biological-father all sorts of details about the abuse.

There were just two problems with the story. One, step daughter couldn't repeat it. Two, I had to work, I couldn't attend that camping trip. I was two states away and had the work records to prove it.

The detective had pieced together the timeline pretty well. The complainant called, gave all the details, and the detective did the right thing: told her to make a non-anonymous complaint and make herself liable for what she claimed. The detective informed her that she wouldn't even open an investigation based on anonymous triple-hearsay. This person refused to make a non-anonymous complaint, although she had already stated on public record enough information to positively identify herself. Instead, she called up Children's services and made the exact same complaint. The children's services agent then called up the local police department, made the same complaint - (this time anonymous quadruple hearsay) and ORDERED the detective to investigate.

The detective's insistence that I obtain and read the report began to make a lot of sense. She knew that her report would be public record, while Children's Services reports were confidential.

A few weeks after they had showed up at my door, I called the agent back, and recorded the call. I informed her that I had just collected the police report. I punched holes in every aspect of the complaint. I identified all of the participants, and clearly explained why none of them could have actually possessed the information claimed. Then I asked her who all she had interviewed about the sexual abuse complaints. I informed her that I had contacted all of the people who had been on the camping trip and that none of them reported having spoken to her. I asked her why, in the weeks since the initial interviews, she had spoken to nobody but the subjects of her investigation, and my parents and brother, none of whom were present at the dates and locations stated in the complaint. I asked her why she was conducting a witch hunt.

We eventually scheduled a "final interview" to be done in her office. I brought a video camera and switched it on. She asked me to leave the room. I left the camera on the table. She asked my fiance to turn off the camera, she informed the agent that she wanted everything on record. I was invited back into the room, and was told, on record, that the final interview could not be conducted on record; that I would have to turn off the video camera to continue.

We got up and left.

This organization operates in a manner that violates the constitutional rights of both the parent and the child. It legitimizes abusive and specious complaints, forcing police involvement where departmental policies and the law would not allow them to proceed. They usurp police investigative power, and reverse the concept of innocent until proven guilty. But kids are involved, so they deserve some more latitude, right? These people threatened to take my kids based solely on an anonymous, triple-hearsay complaint. They threatened to take my kids from me and my fiance, place them in custody, and force us to prove our innocence before we could bring them home. At one point, she had the gall to claim that because my fiance and I weren't married, and there was a technical issue with her birth certificate, that I wasn't the legal father of my daughter. (I shouldn't have, but I got real close and real quiet and told her that she would never make such a claim in my presence again.)

Thomas James Ball's suggestion to commit arson is a bit over the top. But not by a whole lot. If there were any corroborating evidence for the claims that had been made against us; if we had left a bag of trash on the floor in the kitchen, or my step-daughter had ever seen me in the shower, things very easily could have been far more traumatic for my kids.

I STRONGLY recommend that anyone forced to deal with them records EVERY encounter. It is your RIGHT to record any official dealings with authority that you want to record. If children's services comes to call, show them the door, call a lawyer, call a neighbor, call the police, and turn on the cameras.

We work together every damn day. --Jon Stewart
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Old 06-17-2011, 07:37 AM  
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A word of caution....Yes, you can record these conversations, however all sides must be fully aware they are being recorded or you may be in violation of a law. Also, if the investigating agency feels that your recording may have evidentiary value, the recording/video equipment may be seized as evidence.
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