December 2008 CA&N Articles

Some recent media articles and resources relating to child abuse and neglect.  If you have items that you think would be helpful to include in this occasional post, please forward them to me at the email in my signature block. 

These stories were chosen because of their perceived relevance to the child welfare community.  MiPSAC is not responsible for the views expressed in any of these articles, nor does it take a position for or against the positions expressed in the articles.  They are presented merely to provide a sampling of what the media is saying about child welfare. 

Charlie Enright, JD, MSW
4907 Foster Rd.
Midland, MI  48642
(989) 832-9628
[email protected]


Charlevoix Courier – Dec 31st: Heidi Miller was repeatedly sexually abused as a child, and she hopes her effort will help those who have been treated likewise.  Full Story

Livonia Observer – Dec 25th: Woman who put baby in trash will stand trial.  A Wayne County jury will decide whether a Westland woman tried to kill her newborn son or if she was besieged by mental problems when she delivered the baby herself, tucked him in a trash bag and put him in her parents’ garage.  Full Story

Oakland Press, December 19th: “An Oakland County Circuit Court judge has delayed his decision on whether to terminate the parental rights of a woman whose daughter’s death was ruled a homicide.” Sara Pope-Starnes is a prosecutor on this case.  Evidence includes a prior admission of physical abuse by mother’s live-in boyfriend and mother’s refusal to testify citing the fifth amendment.  Full story

Livingston County Daily Press & Argus; December 16th: “There will be no charges filed against Pinckney students who possessed or transmitted cell phone pictures or videos of a naked 14-year-old female student.” Full story

Macomb Daily, December 14th: “Juvenile offenders get second chance.” Full story

Flint Journal, December 13th: “Genesee County cuts down on missing foster kids but some still live on the streets, escaping the system.” Full story

Detroit News, December 13th: “A Southfield mother will get to spend the holidays at her own home with three of her children, but a teenage son she is alleged to have abandoned in Nebraska must stay in foster care.” Full story

The Kalamazoo Gazette, December 15th: The father and stepmother of a teenager who died in a fire while chained to her bed were arraigned this morning on manslaughter and child abuse charges. Full Story

Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, December 12th: “The Livingston County Circuit Court’s family division is one of 35 across the country selected for a national project designed to improve its handling of child abuse and neglect cases.” | Full story

Detroit Free Press, December 12th: “Mom who took son to Nebraska in court today.” | Full story

Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, December 11th: “A 13-year-old Livingston County boy was charged in juvenile court with sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl and killing her cat.” | Full story

Detroit News, December 9th: “A 34-year-old mother accused of hosting a weekend sex party that involved her 16-year-old daughter, another teenage girl and 19 prostitutes, was ordered held Monday in the Wayne County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond.” | Full story

The Flint Journal, Dec 9th: Hurley doctor starts effort to combat Shaken Baby Syndrome  Full Story

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished) December 8, 2008
Case Name: In re Gerwatowski
The Court of Appeals reversed a termination of parental rights.  The petitioner (DHS) relied on the concept of “anticipatory abuse and neglect” to initiate termination of the respondent’s parental rights.  The Appeals Court noted the concerns about another child’s injuries were amply justified, but it was concerned about the subjective nature of the petitioner’s conclusions about the origin of the other child’s injury and respondent’s role was neither confirmed nor disproved.  Medical reports failed to conclude exactly how the child was injured. The court was also concerned about the petitioner’s failure to provide respondent with additional or alternative services given its concerns about his anger management and need for ongoing therapy.
Full Text Opinion

Grand Haven Tribune, December 8th: Children’s Advocacy Center helps hurt children to heal.  Includes a picture and description of CAC program headed by Darcy Komejan of MiPSAC.  Full Story

Detroit News Editorial, December 4th: Requiring that grandparents, aunts and uncles be licensed before serving as foster parents for their grandchildren, nieces and nephews will drive up costs for counties and unnecessarily insert the state into family relationships.  The requirement is part of a settlement the state Department of Human Services reached earlier this year with a child advocacy group called Children’s Rights. The state agency had been sued in Detroit Federal Court and ended the case with this agreement.  There have been a number of well-publicized instances of abuse and even deaths in the state foster care system, and reforms were certainly necessary.  The terms of the settlement require the state to hire more child welfare workers and give them more training and education. In addition, the workload for supervisors and child care workers must be reduced so the workers can give more individual attention to the welfare of the children.  But one sticking point in the agreement is the requirement that relatives who agree to take in children must be licensed by the state. Currently, grandparents, aunts and uncles receive no payment for caring for their own relatives.  Some county officials worry that if they become licensed and eligible for county payments, the strain on local budgets will be unbearable. Taxpayers would be paying families to care for their own.  .  Full Editorial

Kalamazoo Gazette, December 2nd: “Parents charged in death of girl chained to bed: Judge denies motion to return children to Springers. Full story

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished) December 1, 2008
Case Name: In re Harvey
The trial court properly terminated the respondent-father’s parental rights to the two minor children where the evidence clearly and convincingly established a reasonable likelihood, based on his conduct or capacity, the children would be emotionally harmed if returned to his home. He began having an affair and when his wife confronted him about the affair, he became violent. He pleaded guilty to one count of felonious assault, stemming from his assault of the mother and was sentenced to two to four years’ imprisonment. His conduct traumatized and emotionally harmed the children. He physically and verbally abused and threatened to kill the mother in their presence. Then, he was absent from their lives due to his imprisonment for the felonious assault of the mother. He did not contest his past acts were violent in nature. Instead, he argued his favorable progress in an “Assaultive Offender Psychotherapy” program completed while in prison showed he had learned appropriate ways to manage his anger and the children would no longer be subjected to a risk of harm if returned to his care. Although his prison therapy termination report was positive, the expert opinions clearly contradicted that report and overwhelmingly indicated the children would likely be subjected to serious emotional harm if returned to his home. It was clear from the trial court’s opinion it found the expert opinions to be “extremely credible and believable.” The court gave deference to the special opportunity of the trial court as fact-finder to judge the credibility of the witnesses who appeared before it. Affirmed.
Full Text Opinion

Detroit Free Press Sunday, Nov 30th “Editorial: Stability, if not family.  Michigan needs to do more to ensure that fewer kids get entangled in the foster care system in the first place, that all of them in the system get good care, and that children who age out of the system are not just cut loose but given a decent foundation to start their adult lives.  Full editorial

Detroit Free Press, Sunday, Nov 30th: Special-needs kids take extra patience and love, workers say.  Full Story

Detroit News, November 29th: Counties fear costlier foster care.  Recent court-ordered improvements to Michigan’s foster care system are being praised for helping children, but they could cost cash-strapped counties millions in unplanned expenses. Full story

Jackson Citizen-Patriot, Nov 26th: “Jackson County Circuit Judge John McBain is blasting the Prosecutor’s Office for allowing accused child abusers to plead to lesser offenses.” Full Story

Detroit Free Press, Nov 26th: “Kids get a new start in Michigan Adoption Day.” Full Story
Also see –
Detroit News: “Finding a new home: 225 kids taken in across state on Adoption Day.” | Full story
Oakland Press: “Family for the holiday.”
Port Huron Times Herald: “Hearts connect in courtroom.”
Muskegon Chronicle: “Adoptions celebrated in area courts.”
Battle Creek Enquirer: “Adoption Day places 21 kids.”
Kalamazoo Gazette: “Adoption Day makes siblings’ new families official.”
Flint Journal: “[F]amily … adds 3 more children (now 17 in all) on Adoption Day.”
Lansing State Journal: “Grandma, three children celebrate becoming ‘real family.'”

Alpena News, Nov 23rd: “Michigan adoption: The process, requirements and experience of adopting a child.” First Story
Also see: Alpena News: Second Story

Detroit News, Nov 21: “Ex-altar boy sues Catholic Church: Archdiocese is targeted in second civil claim alleging sex abuse by now-deceased priest.” | Full story

Detroit Free Press, Nov 21: “A rape case against a 24-year-old fell apart after his 16-year-old accuser gave conflicting statements during her testimony against him.” | Full story

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