Category: law

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Texas Laws on Child Abuse

Reporting Child Abuse

Mandated Reporting

Texas Family Code

261.101 Persons required to report

A person (everyone) having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report as provided by this subchapter. This requirement to report under this section applies without exception to an individual whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, a member of the clergy, a medical practitioner, a social worker, a mental health professional, and an employee of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services. The identity of the reporter is confidential and may only be released by order of court or to law enforcement agency conducting a criminal investigation.

Texas Family Code

261.103 Report made to appropriate agency

A report shall be made to: any local or state law enforcement agency; Child Protective Services if the alleged or suspected abuse involves a person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child; the state agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers the facility in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred; or the agency designated by the court to be responsible for the protection of children.

Texas Family Code

261.104 Contents of report

Person making report shall identify, if known:

name and address of child; name and address of person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of child; and any other pertinent information concerning the alleged or suspected abuse or neglect.

Texas Family Code

261.106 Immunities

Persons acting under good faith who reports or assists in the investigation of a report of alleged child abuse or neglect or who testifies or otherwise participates in a judicial proceeding arising from a report, petition, or investigation of alleged child abuse or neglect is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.

Texas Family Code
261.107 False report
A person commits an offense if the person knowingly makes a report under this chapter that the person knows is false or lacks factual foundation. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor (up to 1 year in jail and/or $4,000 fine).

Texas Family Code
261.109 Failure to report
A person commits an offense if the person has cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect and knowingly fails to report as provided in this chapter. The offense is a Class B misdemeanor (up to 180 days in jail and/or $2,000 fine).

Child Outcry Statements

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 38.072

Hearsay statement of child abuse victim
Statements of a child under the age of 13 who is a victim of sexual offenses or assaultive offenses made to the first person 18 years of age or older are an exception to hearsay rule and that person can testify directly as to what the child said to them.

Privileged Communications

Civil

Texas Family Code
261.202 Privileged Communication
In a proceeding regarding the abuse or neglect of a child, evidence may not be excluded on the ground of privileged communication except in the case of communications between an attorney and client.

Criminal

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 38.10 Exceptions to spousal privilege
The privilege of a person’s spouse not to be called as a witness for the state does not apply in any proceeding in which the person is charged with a crime committed against the person’s spouse, a minor child, or a member of the household of either spouse.

Texas Rules of Criminal Evidence 503 and 505

The privileged communications afforded by attorney/client and clergyman/ client relationships applies to criminal prosecutions except as noted in the Texas Family Code 261.101 (initial reporting).

Statute of Limitations

None –
murder/manslaughter

10 years past child’s 18th birthday –
aggravated sexual assault of a child
sexual assault of a child
indecency with a child by contact

10 years- indecency with a child by exposure

  • All persons are
    required by law to report child abuse.

  • The report can be made
    to law enforcement, Child Protective Services, or the agency regulating the
    facility where the abuse is occurring.

  • Report should contain
    name/address of child and caregiver as well as information regarding the
    abuse.

  • Information about the
    reporting person is confidential except if ordered by court or to aid law
    enforcement in their investigation.

  • Persons reporting in
    good faith are immune from civil or criminal punishment.

  • Persons making
    intentional false reports can be punished criminally.

  • Persons failing to
    make a report can be punished criminally.

  • Hearsay (statement
    made by another person) is usually not admissible in court. In cases
    where a child is a victim under 13, the first person the child told about
    the abuse 18 or over can testify to the hearsay statement.

  • There is no privileged
    communication in civil child abuse cases except for statements to your
    attorney.

  • The only privileged
    communication in a criminal child abuse case is those to your attorney and
    your clergyman.

  • A spouse or other
    family member can be compelled to testify against anyone.

  • The time that a person
    can be charged after committing sexual abuse of a child is up to 28 years
    except in cases of child death in which case there is no set time to bring
    charges after the commission of the offense.

source: ATCCAC Home Page

child custody, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, Eldorado, family, foster care, government, law, legal, system failure
ElDorado Childrens’ Removal by CPS was based on False Allegations

But still … they are keeping the kids in foster care…. ?  Why?

Warrant dropped against man named in polygamist retreat raid

May 2, 2008

ELDORADO, Texas (AP) — An arrest warrant has been dropped for a man thought to be the husband of a teenage girl whose report of abuse triggered a raid on a polygamous sect’s Texas compound, authorities said Friday.

A Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman would not say why the warrant was dropped for Dale E. Barlow, 50, who lives in Colorado City, Ariz. Barlow has denied knowing the 16-year-old girl who called a crisis center.The girl reported that she was a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and that she was beaten and raped at the sect’s Eldorado ranch.

An investigation led to the April 3 raid, in which state welfare workers took 463 children living at the Yearning For Zion Ranch. A boy was born to one of the sect’s mothers Tuesday; he and the other children remain in state custody.

Authorities have not located the 16-year-old girl and are investigating the source of the call.

Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger would not say when the warrant for Barlow was dropped, only that “it is no longer active.”

Rob Parker, an FLDS spokesman, said the dropped warrant shows the weakness of the state’s case against residents of the ranch.

“I think that’s just one more piece of evidence that the whole basis on which this raid was premised was unfounded and was inadequately checked out, to the formulation of what basically amounted to an army that went in there and took their children,” Parker said.

The phone number used to call the crisis center is the same one once used by a Colorado woman, identified as 33-year-old Rozita Swinton of Colorado Springs, accused of making previous false reports of abuse.

Investigators have not said whether Swinton made the call to Texas authorities, though Vinger said she is “still considered a person of interest.”

“There is an investigation centering on that,” Vinger said. “We have quite a bit of evidence that still needs to be analyzed.”

A judge has ruled that children removed from the ranch should stay in state custody until all can have a hearing.

Child welfare officials told the judge the children were living in an authoritarian environment that left girls at risk of sexual abuse and raised boys to become sexual perpetrators.

The FLDS is a group that splintered from the Mormon Church, which does not recognize the sect and disavows polygamy.

In Utah, members of the polygamous church have asked the state’s governor to intervene in its fight with Texas authorities over the custody the children.

A letter written by FLDS elder Willie Jessop says Texas officials are rejecting Utah-issued birth certificates and other documents as “fake.”

The letter asks Gov. Jon Huntsman to exercise his executive authority to assist in protecting the civil rights of native Utahns and FLDS members. FLDS parents claim they have been denied their due process by the Texas courts.

“Without your leadership and personal intervention in this matter, the parental rights of every Utah family is at risk,” Jessop wrote.

Huntsman spokeswoman Lisa Roskelly said the governor has been in contact with Jessop and was reviewing his request.

child death, child sex crimes, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, death penalty, domestic violence, family, General, government, law, legal, rape, sexual assault, system failure, U.S. Supreme Court
Texas Argues Death Penalty For Child Rapists

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/yahoolatestnews/stories/041708dnnatscotus.6c5b97cf.html?npc
 
U.S. Supreme Court to hear Texas argue death penalty for child rapists
08:39 AM CDT on Wednesday, April 16, 2008
By BRENDAN MCKENNA / The Dallas Morning News
bmckenna@dallasnews.com
 
WASHINGTON — Texas says sometimes the sexual assault of a child can be so violent or obscene that the only appropriate punishment is to execute the offender.
 
And Wednesday, Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz will make that case to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that state legislatures have the constitutional right to allow the death penalty for child rapists.
 
The case before the court, Kennedy vs. Louisiana, concerns a Louisiana law and the case of a Jefferson Parrish, La., man convicted of raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter. But striking down that law could call into question Texas’ 2007 “Jessica’s Law,” which allows the execution of certain repeat child sex offenders.
 
The Supreme Court ruled 30 years ago that death was an excessive penalty for the aggravated rape of a 16 year-old girl. But Mr. Cruz said that decision implicitly left open the door for capital punishment for the rape of children in referring to that victim as an adult.
“The damage inflicted on this 8-year-old girl … will remain with her every day of her life,” Mr. Cruz said. “The Constitution does not prohibit elected legislatures from making the determination that the most egregious forms of child rape should permit the jury to impose the most serious sentence.”
 
But the prospect of capital punishment could lead to fewer abuses being reported because most child sexual abuse is committed by someone known to and even loved by the victims, said Judy Benitez, executive director of Louisiana Federation Against Sexual Assault. The group is leading a coalition of victims groups opposed to applying the death penalty for child rapes, including the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.
 
“These are extremely manipulative people,” she said. “They say to the child, ‘If you tell, you’re going to make the police come and take me away, and then how is Mom going to pay the bills.’ They put it very much on the child.”
 
The groups also argue that if the death penalty can be imposed for child rape, it could make some offenders more likely to kill their victims to prevent them from testifying, she said.
Aside from the moral arguments, David Bruck, executive director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse at Washington and Lee Law School, said Mr. Cruz and the lawyers for Louisiana face serious legal hurdles.
 
“The Supreme Court doesn’t take very many easy cases, but this should be one,” he said. “The rape of a child is not the same as killing a child, that’s basically what the court said [in 1977]. … Horrible as the crime is, it is not equivalent.”
 
Mr. Bruck said the court could strike down the Louisiana law and leave Texas’ statute intact because it more narrowly restricts cases in which the death penalty could apply. A ruling is expected later this year.
 
Arguments for and against allowing the execution of those who sexually assault children:
AGAINST
Execution is “cruel and unusual punishment” when applied to child rape cases because the Supreme Court already ruled that it is excessive in rape cases when the victim was not also killed.
 
Executions for child rape mean the penalties for rape and murder are the same so an offender may be more likely to kill a victim.
 
Executing child rapists may make it more likely for some child sexual abuse to go unreported.
 
Louisiana’s law, the subject of the case being argued today, is too broad because it could apply to any rape of a child under 12, not just the most egregious.
 
FOR:

 Execution is not necessarily barred by previous rulings as excessive for all rape cases, merely for the rape of an adult woman.
 
Violent rape of a child is particularly egregious and shows “a degree of manifest evil, that is qualitatively” different from other rapes.
 
Society’s moral standards are evolving to recognize the horror and damage caused by child rape and impose stricter punishments on perpetrators.
 
Louisiana’s aggravated rape law, which also includes rape of the elderly, allows the death penalty only for rape of children under 12.

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, crime, domestic violence, law, legal, sex offenders, texas
ACTION ALERT:: ELLIS COUNTY PROSECUTOR FREES SEX OFFENDER – SPEAK OUT!

Please speak out against this outrageous move by Patrick Wilson, for the sake of my children and others out there that he WILL victimize. How can this happen years after a guilty plea??

Comments, please, petition, write your congressman, this is outrageous!!!

Child sex offender cases released, charges dismissed

KELLIE ROBINSON
and GLEN JACKSON

The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE – Angel DeJesus Hernandez was alleged to have raped a child.

He plead guilty in 2005 and was given a probation sentence of five years and ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution.

One of the terms of his deal with County Attorney Joe Grubbs’ office was he would have to register as a sex offender if he violated any terms of his sentence. (under deferred adjudication, alleged suspects are not required to register).

Hernandez, according to court documents in the Ellis County District Clerk’s office, committed another act of sexual assault of a child in July of 2006.

This time, the sexual assault charge resulted in another two-year probation sentence with no fine.

Other cases The Ellis County Press has researched include the more recent James Leonard file. The Waxahachie lawyer was placed on 10 years probation for allegedly molesting two girls under the age of 14, according to court records. He has since fled the country to Central America, according to investigators with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.

A warrant has since been issued for his arrest. Leonard was placed on probation several days after 40th District Court Judge Gene Knize won a re-nomination battle in the 2006 Republican primary over Midlothian attorney Dan Altman.

Other cases The Ellis County Press has reviewed:

Cause No. 30278CR – Renee June Deguizman
Court records state, ‘�forced sexual organ of �Logan’ (under 17 yoa) to contact and penetrate mouth of defendant. Five years jail and no fine. Plead guilty.’

Cause No. 29502CR – Brian Keith Martin Jr.
Documents state Martin ‘raped �J.D.’ a child under 17 yoa, plead guilty, two years [jail] and no fine.’ Defense attorney Cindy Ermatinger had Martin credited for 91 days off his jail sentence.

Cause No. 30390CR – Ronnie Lynn Cummings Jr.

‘Rape, child under 14 yoa, with penis and vibrator, sodomizing, forced oral sex on her, 40 years each count.’

The prosecutors dismissed the charges of oral sex and assault due to Cummings maintaining his innocence, according to court documents.

Assistant prosecutor Patrick M. Wilson signed the court documents allowing for the dismissal of the case. Defense attorney Cindy Ermatinger filed a writ of habeas corpus, stating the bond of $100,000 was ‘excessive.’

This is not a good thing, this man will re-offend, I’m willing to place my soul on that … OUR CHILDREN WON’T BE SAFE. So my question is what, if anything, does it change for his sentence?! 

How do the on-record victims that each of these pedophiles were convicted for, feel about this? 

 How can this happen after he plead guilty?

Anyone know these answers?
Cause No. 31362CR – James Cotter
‘Rape of a child under 14 yoa, plead guilty, five years in jail, credited 183 days.’
Cause No. 30830CR – Joe Rudy Ramos Jr.

 

Court documents state Ramos Jr. ‘forced �C.F.’ (child under 14) to place her genitals in his mouth.’ Ramos attempted suicide on July 11, 2006 and as a result, prosecutors dismissed the case. Ramos rejected a plea bargain of 10 years deferred adjudication. A trial date had been scheduled for Jan. 9, 2007, but ‘due to vacation plans the state has not had time to adequately prepare child witnesses.’

Cause No. 31045CR – James Edwards
Judgment was entered on Nov. 3, 2006 in Knize’s 40th District courtroom for allegations of aggravated sexual assault of a child, according to court documents. The offense allegedly occurred on Dec. 31, 2004.

Edwards plead guilty and in exchange, he received 10 years deferred adjudication, paid a $2,000 fine and was ordered to perform 720 hours of community service. Edwards, according to the documents, served 149 days in jail and went through sex offender treatment.

Lindy Tober, one of Grubbs’ assistant prosecutors, stated ‘it was in child’s best interest for Edwards to be on deferred adjudication.’

Court documents also reveal the victim was a foster child and that he ‘placed finger in anus of [victim under 14].’

(more…)

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, collin county, cps, custody, divorce, false allegations, family, foster care, government, home, judicial system, kidnapping, law, missing child, sexual offenders, system failure, texas
Collin County Texas – Still taking kids from the innocent..

North Texas Man Fighting For Custody Of His Kids

DALLAS (CBS 11 News) ― A North Texas man has been found not guilty of the aggravated sexual assault of a child. Now, he and his wife are fighting to get their children back.

Douglas Buchar was a successful custom homebuilder when he received a phone call two years ago, almost to the day. Child Protective Services called to inform him that they had taken away his kids. “My secretary got a phone call at the office and said, ‘You need to take this, it’s CPS,'” Buchar recalled. “And I got on the phone and it was just like, what? And they said they took all our kids.”

The children, 4-year-old Megan and 11-year-old Justin, were picked up at school and placed in foster care on January 20, 2006. This all came after the couple’s 12-year-old adopted child accused Buchar of sexual assault.

“I couldn’t,” Buchar started, “the whole thing didn’t make no sense. It wasn’t logical, the charges they had. It just couldn’t have happened.”

Over the next two years, the couple lost their business, their house and their children.

Buchar’s wife, Joy, was arrested as well, but the charges were later dropped. “It’s like someone just took all my guts out,” she said.

The kids lived in foster care for a year and a half. Six months ago, they were given permission to live with Buchar’s sister in New York.

Earlier this week, Buchar faced his accuser during the criminal trial. “Looking at her in court and what not, it was just, she had no clue of the repercussions she has done,” he said. “She doesn’t realize what she has caused, nor do I think she really cares what she has caused. Yes, we do feel sorry for her.”

But most of all, the Buchars said that they miss their biological children.

On Wednesday, a Collin County jury found Buchar not guilty of the crime.

“One thing I learned from all this,” Buchar said, “I was a workaholic and I was working six, seven days a week, 12, 13, 14 hours a day, and I learned now. I promised Justin I’d go fishing with him so many times before. Everytime, it would be like, oh, something’s come up. I got to go. That’s all changed now. I’m going to definitely have weekends off, and definitely spend time with him.”

The Buchars have terminated their parental rights to the adopted girl.

Kelly Davis is Buchar’s lawyer who is trying to get the couple’s biological children back home. She said that she never doubted their innocence. “I think that Doug was able to prove to everybody else that he was innocent by performing all the different types of polygraph and tests that they required, and performing in order to prove his innocence.”

Although Buchar was found not guilty, the nightmare continues. The couple said that they will not stop until they can bring Justin and Megan back home.

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

child support, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, false allegations, foster home, government, law, legal, system failure, system failures
Check out LawyersandSettlements.com – Article written about my story!

Abusive Ex-husband Makes Sure Woman Loses Son News

Its Almost Tuesday – Read Our Story on http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com

January 8, 2008. By Julia Browne RSS FeedRSS Del.icio.usDel.icio.us NewsvineSeed Newsvine FacebookFacebook

Dallas, TX: Mary’s abusive husband, Robbie, vowed to make her pay if she left him. She dared escape domestic violence, but due to additional victimization by Child Protection Services (CPS), the police, and her own mother, she lost her 8 year old son.

“After my divorce I moved with my son to a ‘safe state’, Florida. Robbie followed me there so I had to get a domestic violence protective order and he wasn’t allowed within 5 miles of us. He did try to contact me by email and phone on holidays, which I logged and reported to the local police but it wasn’t considered severe enough for an investigation.”

“For six years in Florida I was happy. I’d gotten married and was living the typical life of barbecues on Sunday and PTA. But stress from the aftermath of that previous abusive marriage and living in constant fear made things difficult and my new husband and I separated. In October 2003, with my family in Texas I figured we’d be all right there for a couple months but that was a fatal mistake.”

Abused WomanIt didn’t take long for Mary’s ex-husband to catch up with his prey.

“Just after the holiday season I reported his stalking behavior and calls to the police department of a suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth. On at least eight occasions they said, ‘oh that’s a Florida order, we’re not going to uphold that in Texas’.”

“Getting away with minor violations made Robbie bolder. He conspired with my mother to take my son away from me, even though he wasn’t his biological father. Together they made allegations against me of mental and emotional abuse, of drug use, and they even claimed I was in a baby-killing cult. When my son was born I cleaned up my life and stopped any drug use. CPS did four different tests and found nothing at all so in mid 2004 I was cleared of all charges of neglect and abuse.”

Mary and her son prepared to move back to the safety of Florida. Their nightmare was over… or so they thought.

“In May 2004 my son went to church and never came home. He was abducted. When I reported it the police, they and a CPS agent showed up at my door, not to give me news, but to get me to sign another accusation of abuse from my ex-husband and my mother. I refused. My attorney tabled a motion to have my son immediately released to me but on day the court order was signed, the police came and took me to a mental hospital for ‘observation’ based on a false affidavit.”

“The doctor couldn’t find any reason to detain me but during that 24 hours I was in that hospital Robbie, GrandMommy, the police officer and a CPS worker broke into my apartment and stole over $10,000 worth of property including all my home videos and photos of me and my kids, all my legal files and evidence, electronics, medication and even my wedding ring. Even our dog was gone.”

Mary’s son was placed in a foster home.

“Parents have to do something like take parenting classes, go to rehab or counseling to have a chance at getting their kid back. I did but they said I didn’t complete their services just because I chose to get my own counselor, not the one of their choice. They called me uncooperative if I did anything that was against my civil rights but even though one of the case workers wrote that my case wasn’t of abuse but of child custody they do retaliate, I hate to say. They ruled against me because I challenged when I knew things weren’t being looked into, like my accusation of Robbie molesting children.”

“The last time I saw my son was just before Christmas 2004. The case worker arrived without him and said, ‘we forgot to bring him’. But that wasn’t possible. He’s nine years old and he knows when it’s Tuesday. The next day, December 22nd, they brought him. He had a black eye, blood on his shirt; he’d been beaten. I never saw him again.

That’s when I started my blog almosttuesdays.com which came out of a poem I was commissioned to write for Child Abuse Awareness month. It was all the things my son had said to me during out visits that we shared that no one else knows about.”

“When I realized he wasn’t coming home I fell apart. I was in such shock. I didn’t have an attorney so I represented myself. Fortunately I’m a paralegal so I could write my own pleadings but they were just ignored. My son’s name was changed, he lives with GrandMommy and I’m not allowed to talk to him. Then Robbie was jailed in 2006 for child abuse. I’m too tired to fight. How do you find an attorney when those hired by the state to work on behalf of the kids say it’s too hard to go up against the system?”

awareness, child custody, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, family, foster care, foster child, government, healing, law, legal, love, parental alienation syndrome, system failure
Hostile? Leave the kids out of it…

It is the responsibility of the parents to not alienates the child from the noncustodial parent. Those around the child can make or break a child.

It is the family members, co-workers, friends, neighbors, school & court officials, social workers, doctors, etc., who recognize the signs of this type of abuse and take the appropriate action that protects the child and victim parent.

Those people surrounding the child may save a life…

The effects of this abuse can be more than a little bit harmful, but extremely detrimental, and even deadly.

If you haven’t read my story, you can find it here –Its Almost Tuesday, The True Story.

Children deserve their childhoods to be free of abuse…

The effects are devastating and may not be immediately noticeable, but long-term and lasting…

photo-059.jpg

 

What is implacable hostility?? (Source: Wikipedia):

After separation or divorce implacable hostility denotes the attitude shown by one parent to another in denying access to, or contact with, their child(ren).What differentiates implacable hostility from the typical hostility that may arise after separation/divorce is that the deep-rooted nature of the hostility cannot be justified on rational grounds and measures taken by third parties including mediators and the family courts are to no avail.

Cases of implacable hostility are increasingly being seen as domestic violence and as a human rights abuse if not recognized by agencies involved, although it is important not to classify hostility as implacable if it is itself justified by domestic violence perpetrated by the other parent.

 

Implacable hostility is akin to Parental Alienation Syndrome; but is not the same condition.

The typical outcome of situations of implacable hostility is that the parent to whom implacable hostility is directed becomes excluded from the life of their child(ren). There are two ways in which this exclusion arises.

Firstly, the excluded parent, having exhausted all the avenues available for resolving the situation, finally gives up the effort. This may be done in the belief that the option of withdrawal is best interests of the child(ren) given the stress that inevitably arises from repeated applications for access/contact.

Secondly, the child(ren) may become parentally alienated — they deny that they want to see the excluded parent. Once a child has become alienated from the excluded parent, the originating implacable hostility becomes subsidiary. From this point, the formerly implacably hostile parent often claims that they are supportive of access/contact but they have to respect the wishes of the child.

Family courts are usually unwilling to force children to see one of their parents against their expressed wishes – and often fail to examine the cause of such statements.

Most often the child is who is harmed.


(more…)

child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, education, family, foster care, foster parent, government, law, legal, missing child, murder, system failure
Caseworkers changed, destroyed records in starvation case

 

Documents: Counties changed, destroyed records in starvation case

(AP)

Caseworkers from two neighboring counties and a state agency doctored or destroyed records pertaining to a 4-year-old girl whose starved body was found stuffed into a picnic cooler, according to a newspaper’s review of court documents.

One caseworker testified in a pretrial deposition that her supervisor ordered her to burn records pertaining to the girl, Kristen Tatar.

“And make sure that you sit down with a glass of wine and a box of Kleenex when you burn Kristen’s” records, Penn State Cooperative Extension worker Pam Walmsley testified in a deposition detailing her supervisor’s instructions. “And get it out of your system and move on.”

Tatar’s 11 1/2-pound body was found stuffed into the cooler that had been set on a curb for trash pickup behind her Armstrong County home in August 2003. Her parents, James Tatar and Janet Crawford, are serving life sentences for starving her to death.

Criminal investigators determined the couple grossly underfed the girl, who was often tied to a chair with a pacifier in her mouth and rarely bathed or nurtured.

The horrific details of Tatar’s life and death are scheduled to receive a second, more detailed airing in April when a federal judge in Pittsburgh hears a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the girl’s aunt, Cathy Fondrk. Fondrk, of Hyde Park, has adopted Kristen’s surviving brother and sued her parents and various child welfare agencies on behalf of the boy.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Wednesday reported that documents filed in the case reveal that Armstrong County officials admitted that they added details to Kristen’s case file after police found her body.

But Armstrong County officials are convinced that Westmoreland County officials also doctored records. Armstrong County has hired a chemist who will testify that dates and signatures on various forms don’t match, based on his analysis of the ink used.

A key issue in the case is whether Westmoreland officials should have warned Armstrong County that the girl was at “high” risk for abuse, not “moderate” or “low” as various Westmoreland records reflected.

Fondrk sued caseworkers and officials in Armstrong County, where the girl died; the Westmoreland Children’s Bureau and some of its caseworkers who supervised Kristen case before her parents moved to Armstrong County in 2001; and the Penn State Cooperative Extension, whose employees helped Westmoreland County supervise the Tatar case.

Westmoreland County officials got a judge to declare the girl dependent and in county custody due to neglect, and twice placed her in foster care in 1999 and 2000.

Generally, the Armstrong County defendants contend Westmoreland County never relinquished jurisdiction in the case, even after Kristen’s parents moved with her to Armstrong County. Westmoreland defendants have argued in court papers that they did the best they could to supervise the girl, but were not ultimately responsible for her death in another county because Armstrong County caseworkers had begun supervising the case by then.

The state Department of Welfare in 2003 found that Westmoreland caseworkers failed to monitor whether Kristen was getting adequate medical attention and that “lax supervision” and “infrequency” of caseworker visits led to the girl’s death.

___

Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, http://pghtrib.com