San Diego County Grand Jury Cites Further CPS Misconduct
Written by: Rodney Share
Use of Our Content (Reposting and Quoting)
July 19th, 2009
Leave a comment Despite more than two decades of repeated investigations by the San Diego County Grand Jury of misconduct by the County of San Diego Child Welfare Services (aka San Diego CPS) agency, the abusive agency and its illegal and harmful actions continue unabated. Safeguards to fix errors and abuses have been perverted into meaningless mechanisms to cover up wrong-doing and insulate the County of San Diego and individual social workers from criminal prosecution and civil litigation. The agency is unrelenting in its refusals to correct its own problems, and continues to run roughshod over the law, civil rights, and best interests of children. The County of San Diego and its derelict Board of Supervisors also avoid taking necessary actions to correct the problems.
Two reports have been released in 2008 and 2009 that indicate how San Diego CPS frequently:
•Removes children from homes without revealing the reasons
•Fails to document reasons for CPS actions in writing
•Fails to provide written communications and instructions to parents
•Claims to courts and others to have communicated in writing to parents, but no such evidence of this alleged written communication could be found by the Grand Jury. This implies that CPS social workers lied and/or perjured. This is consistent with past findings in previous Grand Jury investigations that CPS social workers routinely lie and perjure to the detriment of children and parents.
•Fails to objectively and competently investigate complaints regarding CPS and its social workers after children are removed from homes.
•Uses the removal of children from homes on inadequately investigated allegations as an excuse to stop further investigation.
CPS Refuses to Communicate Effectively with Parents
CPS social workers avoid using written communications with parents. It appears part of the purpose for this is to leave parents uncertain of what is happening and stymied in their responses because they lack critical information that should have been provided to them.
(from San Diego County Grand Jury 2008 Report: NOTIFICATION AND TRAINING IN CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES, page 2)
The complainants were a small group of individuals from all areas of the County and from different ethnic and economic groups. Their common ground was that they all had been accused of child neglect or abuse resulting in children having been temporarily removed from their custody. A common complaint was, at the time the children were removed, that they did not receive verbal or written notification specifying the reasons for removal. There was also an indication that the parents or custodians experienced ongoing difficulties in communicating with the social workers assigned to their cases and more difficulty in receiving written notices updating the status of those cases.
Fact: Four of the six complainants were not told why their children were being removed nor were they notified in writing.
Finding: Of the cases we examined, the Grand Jury found no record of written notification at the time of removal.
CPS Refuses to Record Interviews and Use Written Communications
It is unlikely that the following behavioral patterns apply to all CPS workers. In a system of hundreds of employees it seems likely there must be a few “good apples”. Yet they appear to be rare. If a citizen of San Diego believes the stereotype of CPS social workers as duplicitous abusive liars who will harm children and parents and do so without reasonable care for facts and without available means of recourse, it is with good reason.
CPS social workers do not record interviews and refuse to allow recordings of interviews when people request to make such recordings. Based upon these Grand Jury reports, statements from parents who have been abused by CPS, and documents in CPS case files, it appears that this conduct occurs for the following reasons:
•Social workers do not want to be held accountable for getting facts straight, so they are intent on covering up original physical evidence except for that evidence that they can control and manipulate as they see fit.
•Social workers want to be able to bias reports and findings in any way they see fit, the facts be damned. They do this via biased choice of words, false implications and statements that would leave an objective reader of a report believing things that are not true, intentional or seriously negligent false statements, and distortions and fabrications of statements of others. They omit mention of their own lying and manipulations and abusive conduct. Once they have “documented” a case with inaccurate, biased, and defamatory misinformation in their self-serving and biased manner, then there is no original source material upon which abused families can rely upon to correct the systematic misinformation promulgated by CPS. This then functions as an excuse for why they will not reopen a biased and seriously flawed investigation.
•Social workers do not want recordings of their verbal statements because they frequently lie, make inflammatory remarks, exhibit blatant disregard for the law and safety of children, show evident sexism and bias particularly against fathers and men, and commit psychological abuses and use unwarranted threats against parents to manipulate and control them.
•Social workers want to be able to manipulate 3rd parties contacted during the course of investigations to produce false “evidence” to be used against parents whom they have already decided with prejudice to target for deprivation of civil rights, suspension or termination of custody, or other unjustifiable actions.
•Social workers and the County of San Diego want to avoid prosecution and civil litigation for violation of the US Constitution and Federal Civil Rights legislation. If proper documentation of their actions and words and those of others were kept, it would significantly assist families abused by CPS in criminal prosecutions and law suits against individual social workers and the County of San Diego.
CPS Has No Effective Oversight
There is no effective oversight of San Diego CPS and its social workers. Instead, there is refusal to perform objective and competent investigations of their abuses and errors. The agency’s supposed complaint investigation system, the “CPS Ombudsman” office, simply functions as a rubber stamp and biased self-defense mechanism covering up abuses and errors by CPS and abusive social workers.
As the Grand Jury stated:
(from San Diego County Grand Jury 2009 Report: ENHANCING OMBUDSMAN’S RESPONSIBILITIES WITHIN CHILD WELFARE SERVICES, page 2)
When errors are made in CWS operations they are often highly visible and can have a devastating impact on the children and families involved. In addition, they have a negative impact on the overall credibility of the department. Where independent review exists it gives people confidence that no cover-ups are occurring. When there is no investigation, objectivity can be called into question. Objective investigations give the public confidence no cover-up exists.
Based on recent newspaper articles and citizen complaints, there is a public perception that CWS’s internal investigations are biased in favor of the agency. Interviews with CWS managers revealed that internal investigations are limited to a review of the case file and no additional field investigation occurs. When specifically asked if they sought out the truth, managers indicated that once a child was no longer in the home, active investigation of the initial circumstances of a case ceases.
San Diego CPS: 20+ Years of Abusive and Illegal Conduct
The 2008 and 2009 reports are rehashes in many ways. Citizens continue to file the same types of complaints against this agency year after year because the County of San Diego refuses to fix the problems.
(from San Diego County Grand Jury 2009 Report: ENHANCING OMBUDSMAN’S RESPONSIBILITIES WITHIN CHILD WELFARE SERVICES, pages 1-2)
In response to concerns regarding CWS processes in the removal of children that developed while reviewing previous Grand Jury investigations, the 2008/2009 Grand Jury undertook a study of the history of Grand Jury investigations as they related to CWS for the past 20 years. It has been noted that Grand Jury reports during this period discussed similar complaints and made recommendations to CWS about its initial contacts with families. Parents complain that these meetings are fraught with difficulties. They think that initial reports are not always accurate. To many parents, both the initial determination and the process leading to it are a source of confusion and misunderstanding. The initial determination is important because it serves as the foundation for Court proceedings, including placement of the child. In general, parents are not aware of any means to challenge the initial determination until a Court hearing.
The Grand Jury undertook this investigation after Jurors noted that CWS is the current recipient of complaints of a similar nature to those covered in previous Grand Jury reports. The current Grand Jury investigation indicates that decisions made by CWS personnel are not subjected to significant oversight although they are subject to limited internal review of the case file. Additionally, employees of CWS testified that they “have the ability to consciously manipulate the Risk Assessment tool(1) for the purpose of supporting any decision [they] …. make.”
1. Risk Assessment is a form that is used by CWS workers to assess the level of risk and may support the removal of the child.
Complicit Involvement of Rady Children’s Hospital and Chadwick Center
The staff of Rady Children’s Hospital and Chadwick Center have been involved in many abuses against families and children. The staff of these organizations appear to lack objectivity and allow themselves to be entangled in CPS misconduct for their own financial gain.
Instead of helping children, they aim to help CPS. These are two very different goals. The first is to help children recover from any trauma that may have occurred, the second is often to traumatize children and brainwash them to assist CPS is generating evidence falsely to be used against CPS’s chosen targets, even if their targets did nothing illegal.
CPS and law enforcement feed incomplete and biased information to therapists who are supposed to be helping children. Often truly abusive parents have engaged in brainwashing tactics on their children, also, hoping to help build false accusations against the other parent. These behaviors all result in the focus of the therapy being on building a CPS or criminal case often against a parent who did not do anything illegal, not discovering what really happened or did not happen and helping the children deal with it. Accused parents are not provided the opportunity to talk with these therapists or to find out what is being discussed, even though it may be substantially inaccurate.
Beyond the ability of accusing parents to brainwash their children directly, accusing parents or other accusers often have their words and statements fed to the therapists via CPS and law enforcement. The result is that these therapists lack objectivity and full information about a case. They are taught to regard the accused parent as a criminal and to speak about him or her in front of the children as such. They will consequently cause more damage to the children involved. They push children to make false statements and develop unfounded fears, causing what may turn into a lifetime of trauma for these children. The trauma may not be from anything done by the accused parent or caregiver, but rather from the psychological assault on the children committed by the therapists at the behest of CPS and law enforcement.
(from San Diego County Grand Jury Report of 1993-1994: Dale Akiki Case and Prosecutorial Misconduct)
The Grand Jury was able to determine that therapy frequently is not used to its fullest treatment benefit, but is an adjunct to develop evidence for the prosecution of child molestation cases. The many issues involving conflict of interest, hidden agendas and misguided treatment by therapists are addressed in this report as well as the dispelling of the myth that satanic ritual abuse is prevalent in child molestation cases in San Diego County.
The Grand Jury’s investigation of the prosecution procedures started with the role of the investigators who respond to the first report of molestation, and the relation to the social worker who participated in the first response. The Jury then went on to review the operation at Children’s Hospital with regard to the initial evidentiary interview and physical examination.
The Grand Jury spent a considerable amount of time investigating the role of therapists in dealing with children, and a review of the beliefs in ritual abuse and satanic ritual abuse. Many mental health workers were interviewed and testified before the Grand Jury. These included Marriage, Family and Child Counselors (MFCC), Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), clinical psychologists and psychiatrists.
Therapists are utilized by the court and the District Attorney’s office to provide healing and treatment for young children who are victims of sexual molestation. In some cases these therapists have been used to encourage disclosures by children of events or perceived events relating to sexual molestation cases. The Grand Jury finds that “The San Diego Model” needs improvement when compared with the Orange County CAST model.
The question of whether the prosecuting deputy district attorney had produced enough evidence to initiate proceedings against Dale Akiki is one that concerned this Grand Jury. This was especially true since there was almost no physical evidence, and in most instances disclosure by the children came only after intense therapy.
The Grand Jury has learned that the original prosecutor in the case had concerns about the believability, credibility and reliability of the children’s testimony. She lacked confidence in proceeding with the case because she believed that the children’s testimony was neither accurate nor consistent.
Rady, Chadwick, CPS, Police, and DA Dishonestly Tow Government Line
Many of the mental health professionals working with allegedly abused children in San Diego County are employees of Rady Children’s Hospital and its affiliate Chadwick Center. These so-called professionals are not objective parties. They have a vested interest in serving the goals of CPS and the government before the goals of helping children. Children do not pay for their services, the government does. They know who their customers are, and if their customers want them to harm children then they will gladly do it for a fee.
CPS social workers are often in frequent contact with these therapists. As the Grand Jury found, when a therapist does not agree with the assessment of a CPS social worker, the therapist stands to lose business from this disagreement. Consequently, these therapists align with CPS because it is in their financial interests to do so. This is yet another problematic practice that results in wrongful accusations, abusive child custody changes, wrongful prosecutions, and indeed in some case in the covering up of actual child abuse by the actual abusive parent because the CPS social worker in charge of the case refuses to act in an objective and responsible fashion.
When therapists and doctors from Chadwick and Rady are not sure what is going on in a family, they will allow police and CPS to influence them with intentional misinformation. As mandatory child abuse reporters, if these therapists and doctors are informed of something that could be abuse or neglect and fail to report it, they could be disciplined or prosecuted. Often they are not sure what is happening because they have incomplete information, so it is understandable that they may fail to file a report.
But when they realize they may have failed to follow the mandatory child abuse reporting laws and there are signs of real abuse and neglect that had been pointed out to them, they will turn on the party that may push for disciplinary action against them. It is a game of kill the messenger intended to cover-up to protect themselves and their government handlers. When enough of these dishonest doctors and therapists stick together with their distortions, fabrications, and attacks on a parent who has legitimate concerns backed by real evidence of child abuse or neglect, they can turn that parent into an accused target for the government to persecute. They are happy to do it to protect themselves and line their pockets with government money. They will write letters and reports which intentionally omit evidence which shows legitimate concerns of the target parent, and instead portray the target parent as crazy and abusive.
San Diego parents would be well-advised to never trust anybody at Rady Children’s Hospital or Chadwick Center or any other doctor or therapist who is involved in child abuse or neglect reporting. Even if a parent thinks they have good evidence of abuse or neglect and have shared it with these so-called professionals, it can and will be ignored and evidence fabricated or spun to portray them as the problem if the government handlers such as CPS social workers wish the doctors or therapists to do this.
Rady, Chadwick, CPS, police, the District Attorney, and others get together on Wednesdays at Rady Children’s Hospital for “seminars” on child abuse topics. Too often these are used as gab-fests for these corrupt and dishonest parties to influence each other inappropriately and to set the government position on particular families and cases to which all the parties must adhere at risk of discipline or loss of income.
As a parent who risks contact with these corrupt groups, you run the very real risk of being turned into a falsely accused child abuser. Every contact you have with these people can be spun to portray you inaccurately, and they will do it willingly so that even outside objective parties doubt what you say and believe the lies and distortions of Rady, Chadwick, CPS, and police staff. It may sound alarmist, but it is a real phenomenon that occurs because there are plentiful incentives for dishonesty and spin-jobs and inadequate mechanisms for punishing or removing those who engage in them.
Therapists Become Child Abusers
Therapists who are used by CPS and law enforcement agencies as described above may function as government-paid child abusers and brainwashers. In such cases, they force psychological trauma on target children until the children break and do what is demanded of them, even if they know they are lying. This includes repeating false allegations against the chosen targets of CPS and the police.
(from San Diego County Grand Jury Report of 1993-1994: Dale Akiki Case and Prosecutorial Misconduct)
Contamination is the act of introducing outside influences into a person’s subjective experience so that either his memory of an event or his description of the event is altered.
Kenneth V. Lanning is the Supervisory Special Agent assigned to the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI at their academy in Quantico, Virginia. In his list of possible sources of contamination he includes “overzealous intervenors.” He points out how interested parties such as parents, other family members, doctors, therapists, social workers, law enforcement and prosecutors can create “intervenor contagion.”
Lanning describes how contamination occurs:
“Victims have been subtly as well as overtly rewarded and bribed by usually well meaning intervenors for furnishing details. In addition, some of what appears to have happened may have originated as a result of intervenors making assumptions about or misinterpreting what the victims are saying. The intervenors then repeat, and possibly embellish, these assumptions and misinterpretations and eventually the victims are ‘forced’ to agree or come to accept this “official” version of what happened.”
In the Akiki case it appears that contamination occurred at many levels. First, the parents had several meetings where the accusations against Dale Akiki were discussed. Although the parents were cautioned not to talk about these events with the children, the fact is that at least some of the parents did. One father even supplied an audiotape of his session with his child.
The therapists were also a source of contamination. Therapy is not only a possible source of contamination, it is by its very nature a form of contamination. Therapy is an active effort to provide the client a new framework to understand the events in their lives. Therapeutic change on the part of the client is based on suggestibility. In order for a person to benefit from therapy, some degree of suggestibility must exist within the client. Unless people were suggestible, therapy would not work. Contamination in therapy can occur through overt and covert methods.
Therapists can also contaminate each other, and this is then passed on to the client. When one therapist deals with more than one client connected with a particular case, it is possible that information “extracted” from one client interview can consciously or subconsciously be transferred to a second client. In addition, when several therapists dealing with different clients in the same case get together, the possibility of the transfer of misinformation or misinterpretations exists. The possibility becomes even greater when all the therapists have a common bias, such as accepting ritual abuse allegations as established fact.
The best example of contamination in the Akiki case was the fact that the therapists were not only trying to treat the children but they were also attempting to be criminal investigators. The prosecutor asked the therapists to provide more disclosures of abuse. One therapist reported that she encouraged parents to use the “empty chair” technique with their child at home so that the child could accuse Dale Akiki, and act out her anger toward him in effigy. The parents were urging the children to provide more and more allegations that could be used for trial. The pressures on the children were enormous.
According to Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington and author of several books and articles on memory, “There is enormous variability in the age of earliest memory from two years to eight years and occasionally later.” Young people go through a period of development when their vocabulary has not been fully formed and where they do not really understand how the world works, so they make up explanations for what they observe, which may not be very logical.
Psychological studies do not show a simple relation between age and suggestibility. A person’s perception, memory and verbal report of an event can be influenced by numerous factors unrelated to the truth of the incident. Pre-event and post-event information, interviewer bias, repeated yes-no questioning and the wording of a question can influence the recall and reporting of an event. Research shows that young children are generally more suggestible
than older children, and that children can be made to distort information based on what they believe the interviewer wants to hear, and this can occur consciously or unconsciously.
The dilemma faced by the prosecution is how to extract believable testimony from very young children. To aid them in this effort the prosecution often turns to therapists.
WHAT IS A THERAPIST?
The term “therapist” represents a function, not a title. Persons of several backgrounds and training are considered capable of treating a child victim as a therapist. These include social workers holding the credentials of Marriage, Family, Child Counselor (MFCC) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), either of whom need to have a Master of Social Work degree. A therapist may also be a psychologist with a Ph.D., or Psy.D. or a psychiatrist (MD).
San Diego County therapist, Michael Yapko, in his book, states there are essential key points that therapists need to remember. Some of his findings include the statements that, “Therapists often hold erroneous views on the workings of memory, repression and hypnosis; most therapists surveyed admitted they do nothing to differentiate truth from fiction in their clients’ narratives; Therapists and researchers have no reliable means to distinguish authentic from false memories and clients’ need for acceptance is a powerful factor that leads them to conform with therapists’ perceptions.”
The author stressed that, “Therapy typically involves more art than science, and how it is practiced is largely a product of a therapist’s subjective beliefs.”
Families of child victims may privately hire a therapist of their own choosing; however if the therapist is to be paid through the Child/Victim Witness Fund they must select from a list of therapists who are approved by the Juvenile Court. In order to receive court approval, the applicant must complete an extensive and thorough application showing his/her educational training, existence of a State license, specialties and experience. They must also affirm that they have viewed a three-hour videotape and the accompanying syllabus of a training seminar for therapists. The Jury found that an inexperienced intern could be covered by this Court approval under the blanket of a licensed therapist simply by filling out a short two-page application. There is no screening of the amount of supervision the intern receives.
In fact, there is no evidence that the applications of the licensed therapists receive more than a cursory screening or that there is any periodic peer review of the therapist’s performance. The only peer review protocol that the Grand Jury found was developed to assist the presiding judge of the Juvenile Court to communicate with the mental health community on issues relating to the writing of reports, the format and guidelines adopted for that purpose, and to educate them concerning the interaction between the work of the court and that of the therapists. There was no provision for judging the work of the therapist as a therapist unless a complaint was received, and then the matter was referred to the presiding judge for action that he/she might feel was appropriate.
Therapists Fail to Adequately Document Their Work
Government-paid therapists and those paid by accusing parties, often malicious parents in a divorce, often fail to adequately document any of their work. They do not audio record or video record sessions, and they may take few if any notes. The result of this sloppiness is that the “evidence” which exists comes down to hearsay perceptions of the therapist who can spin and distort statements to be whatever is necessary to endear themselves to CPS. A “good therapist” from CPS’s perspective is one who documents whatever CPS wants them to say and hides whatever disagrees with CPS.
Even therapists who do not believe there is any abuse happening are forced to report abuse by mandatory child abuse reporting laws. This is what happened in the Dale Akiki case, one of the most egregious wrongful prosecution cases involving child abuse allegations in the history of the United States.
(from San Diego County Grand Jury Report of 1993-1994: Dale Akiki Case and Prosecutorial Misconduct)
In the Akiki case, when suspicion of molestation first surfaced, the pastor of the church called in a therapist who was a consultant to the church to interview the children. After interviewing them, he turned in a report of suspected molestation, as required by law, to the authorities and referred the children to another therapist who saw each child one time. He later told the prosecuting deputy district attorney that he did not feel that Dale Akiki had been involved in any molest. Many of the children underwent a videotaped evidentiary interview at the CCP at Children’s Hospital.
After that the children were placed in treatment with the various therapists mentioned above. The Child Victim-Witness Protocol, supposedly followed by the District Attorney’s office, calls for therapists to assume that they may be called as witnesses in a trial and that they, therefore, should maintain “concise, clear and factual records.” In the Akiki case, there was little or no documentation of any of these sessions which went on for an extended period some of them twice weekly for years. There were no videotapes or audiotapes, and notes were either illegible or non-existent.
In addition to trying to provide healing therapy, some therapists were also engaging in investigative techniques, trying to extract disclosures of molestation from the children. Therapists can get children to say just about anything. When children initially say that nothing happened to them, a misguided therapist labels them as being in denial. Then “therapy” is sometimes continued for months or sometimes years until the children disclosed answers the therapists want to hear.
In the case of Alicia W., which was studied by a previous Grand Jury, the child was kept from her parents and “treated” by a therapist who told her that she would not be allowed to return to her parents until she admitted that her father had raped her. The child originally disclosed that a stranger had entered her bedroom window, but no one believed her until conclusive physical evidence proved that her statements were true.
Records show that most of the therapists involved in the Akiki case attended the seminar where the training video for therapists was filmed. The Jury found that the training video was excellent, but concluded that there was a blatant disregard of its contents when it came to working with the children.
Tactics such as the brainwashing and threats used on Alicia Wade are emotional and verbal abuse against a child. They are paid for with San Diego County taxpayer dollars. As a result, all taxpaying citizens of San Diego are forced to contribute to the child abuse epidemic in the county because they help fund child abuse by the government.
Therapists who engage in these forms of child abuse refuse to document them in any way. The result is that they help protect themselves from prosecution and lawsuits to hold them responsible for the child abuse they have committed under government direction. Usually this cover-up succeeds very well. The exceptions are few and far between, but include cases such as the Wade family lawsuit that resulted in CPS-hired therapist Kathleen Goodfriend losing her license and being held liable for a judgement of $1 million for her abusive treatment of Alicia Wade.
CPS agencies across the state are on record as opposing liability for misconduct of social workers and the people they hire to abuse children under the guise of “therapy” as is shown by the record for California Assembly Bill 1355 in 1995:
(from California AB 1355)
DIGEST: This bill specifies that immunity from prosecution does not include specified acts on the part of a juvenile social worker, child protection worker or other public employees.
Senate Floor Amendments of 9/8/95 recast provisions that are not covered by immunity.
ANALYSIS: Existing law confers an absolute immunity on various persons who are required by law to file reports under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act. Other persons who file reports under the Act, but who are not required to do so, are liable only if the report is false, and the person knew the report was false, or recklessly disregarded the truth of falsity of the report. [Penal Code Section 11172.]
Existing law also immunizes various persons who, in good faith, file reports under the Child Welfare Services Act. It also immunizes the same persons for “participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from” such a report. [Welfare and Institutions Code Section 165113.]
This bill provides that, notwithstanding any other provision of the law, the civil immunity of juvenile court social workers, child protection workers, and other public employees authorized to initiate or conduct investigations or proceedings shall not extend to any of the following:
2. Fabrication of evidence.
3. Failure to disclose known exculpatory evidence.
4. Obtaining testimony by duress.
As used in this section, omaliceo means conduct that is intended by the person described in subdivision (a) to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct that is carried on by the person described in subdivision (a) with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.
Note: This bill has been amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee. As it was voted on in the Assembly, the immunization was the same as the civil immunity provided to peace officers.
In Superior Court v. Goodfriend (1993) 169 Cal.App.4th 169, the Fourth District held that the Act (specifically Penal Code Section 11172) “… is a reporting statute and its protection runs to reporting: it does not apply to activities that continue more than two years after the initial report of abuse by parties who are not acting as reporters.” [p. 174.]
The Goodfriend case arose from the Wade family’s experience with the dependency system and has become infamous as an example of how much emotional and financial harm the current system can cause to a child and her family. The following account is taken from the Fourth District’s opinion:
On the morning of May 9, 1989, eight-year-old Alicia Wade complained of pain when she went to the bathroom. Her parents brought her to the Navy medical unit by 8:30 a.m. The family was then escorted to Children’s Hospital where staff determined that Alicia had been raped and sodomized, and filed a report under the Act. Alicia stated that a man had come through her bedroom window and hurt her.
Late that afternoon, a hospital worker and detective accused Alicia’s father of the molest. In an attempt to prove the father’s innocence, the parents agreed to have their home searched and talk with the police, and the father submitted to a rape test, a DNA test and three polygraph tests.
By May 11, the Department of Social Services (DSS) filed a dependency action and the following day had Alicia placed in temporary foster care. Meanwhile, DSS investigative employee Diane Anderson interviewed the parents and referred them to a private family counselor, Kathleen Goodfriend. At her first session with the family on May 11, Goodfriend accused the father of the assault.
In July 1989, the family’s attorney advised them to plead nolo contendere to a charge of neglect and assured them all other charges would be dropped. The attorney added that, assuming the parents passed a psychological evaluation and found a 24-hour caretaker, Alicia would be home within a week. The parents reluctantly accepted the plea bargain in order to get their daughter home and put the experience behind them. Notwithstanding that the psychological exam was favorable and the family had provided the names of three 24-hour caretakers, counselor Goodfriend refused to cooperate and DSS later backed out of the agreement.
For over a year after her attack, Alicia stood firm in her insistence that her father was not the assailant. Further, the same month that Alicia was attacked, a man entered the bedroom window of a four-year-old girl living across the street from the Wades, abducting the girl and attempting to rape her. The man, Carder, a registered sex offender, was arrested in June, 1989 and by August was charged with four criminal cases involving minors, but not with the Wade case. Goodfriend, the District Attorney and DSS were all aware of the Carder cases.
Goodfriend and the foster-parents put continuing pressure on Alicia to “confess” that her father was the one who assaulted her. Directing Alicia to say her father was guilty, Goodfriend repeatedly told the child: (1) she knew Alicia’s father had molested her; (2) Alicia would feel a lot better if she admitted it; (3) the “story” Alicia had been telling was not believable; (4) Alicia’s mother had been assaulted by Alicia’s grandfather; and (5) if she wanted to go home, Alicia would have to say her father was the perpetrator. At Goodfriend’s direction, every night when she was put to bed, the foster-mother told Alicia “over and over again” that Alicia’s father had raped her.
During all this time, Alicia was completely cut off from her family. Her mother did not see her for a full year and her father did not see her for two years.
Finally, Alicia yielded in June 1990, finally stating that her father was guilty. She testified against her father in July. In September, Alicia, her mother and brother entered “conjoint” therapy with Goodfriend. By November, the mother was so overwhelmed that she attempted suicide and was placed in a locked ward until January, 1991. Alicia’s father was arrested in December, 1990.
New counsel for father had Alicia’s nightgown, worn the night she was raped, tested and the DNA test proved that her father could not have committed the rape and, instead, Carder was among the nine percent of the population whose DNA would have matched that found on Alicia’s nightgown.
The Wade family sued and the trial court sustained the demurrers of the defendants based upon the various immunities provided in law. In their petition for writ of mandate, the family argued that, “the courts have moved beyond the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, Penal Code sections 11164 et seq., to come full circle so those who abuse children in the name of preventing abuse are immunized by the very law meant to protect children.” [p. 173.]
In finding liability on the part of Goodfriend and the foster-parents, the Fourth District noted that they came onto the scene after the initial reporting of abuse and “voluntarily assumed roles of those who, having received the report and determined the identity of the perpetrator, search for corroboration and/or attempt to pressure a witness to get a conviction.” [p.176.]
The demurrers to all causes of action against the social worker and DSS were sustained because of the statutory immunity.
FISCAL EFFECT: Appropriation: No Fiscal Com.: No Local: No
SUPPORT: (Verified 9/8/95)
Child and Family Protection Association
Coalition of Parent Support
Fathers’ Rights and Equality Exchange
Committee on Moral Concerns
Grandparents as Parents
OPPOSITION: (Verified 9/8/95)
County Welfare Directors
National Association of Social Workers
California State Association of Counties
California Independent Public Employees Legislative Council, Inc.
Service Employees International Union, Calif. State Council
County of Sacramento
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT: The author’s office believes that the absolute immunity of social workers, when coupled with their power and influence in a dependency case, has created a lack of checks that is needed to maintain an appropriate balance between these two types of harm. The author states it is his intent in this bill to provide that needed balance.
Supporters argue that judges simply “rubber stamp” the report and recommendations of the social workers in these cases.
ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION: The concern raised by opponents, and noted by the courts prior to Goodfriend, is that any limitation on their immunity would make social workers too fearful of lawsuits to appropriately intervene to protect an endangered child.
Opponents state that the decision to remove a child from his or her home, in the first instance, is made with little that is immediately verifiable in the way of information and the possibility of harm to the child may be such that a social worker would generally err on the side of caution and remove the child.
How is psychologically torturing a child for more than a year into making false accusations against a parent “in the best interests of the child”? The answer is that it is not, it is in the best interests of the social workers and government. They don’t care about hurting children if they can profit from it.
Although AB 1355 was signed into law in 1995 by Governor Pete Wilson, it has not had the effect of holding social workers liable for misconduct. This is because now social workers and the government keep cases out of juvenile and criminal court when they know they have lied and manipulated witnesses and evidence. By doing so, they can keep children from families for years and escape prosecution and civil litigation for their misconduct.
Prosectorial Misconduct by District Attorney
When an alleged child abuse case is passed along from CPS to the police for continued investigation, it seems that might eliminate some of the lack of objectivity and gender bias from the situation. But the reality is that it does not. The San Diego Police Department and related law enforcement agencies are in close contact with CPS, Rady Children’s Hospital, Chadwick Center, and the Child Abuse Unit in the District Attorney’s office. All of these groups frequently interact with each other and do so in a fashion that spreads bias and lack of objectivity.
This can and does lead to severe prosecutorial misconduct going so far as prosecuting people for child abuse crimes that it is unlikely they committed and which in fact may never have occurred at all. Often such wrongful prosecutions are done by intentionally hiding evidence from the accused with intent to win a case at the expense of justice.
(from San Diego County Grand Jury Report of 1993-1994: Dale Akiki Case and Prosecutorial Misconduct)
The Grand Jury notes that Brady v. Maryland indicates that it is the duty of the prosecution to disclose evidence favorable to the defense exists in constitutional due process, both in state and Federal jurisdictions. In California, such disclosure must be made voluntarily. It is held in People v. Wright, “We have imposed a stricter duty on prosecutors in this state, by requiring them to disclose material evidence favorable to the accused without request.”
The Grand Jury notes that the U. S. Supreme Court has stated, “The United States Attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.”
The philosophy expressed applies equally to all public prosecutors.
The extent and consistency of disclosure by deputy district attorneys to the defense of material evidence, or information which might lead to material evidence, favorable to the accused has been considered by the Grand Jury. In the Akiki case, the prosecuting deputy district attorney failed to disclose in a timely manner the fact and result of a surveillance of the accused conducted prior to charging. Such disclosure ultimately was made under imposition of court order. Further, the fact of the investigation of alleged child sexual abuse by a known prior offender, involving a victim related to and occurring near the time of the alleged incidents in the Akiki case, was not disclosed to the defense. Moreover, the investigation of that reported occurrence was not pursued. These circumstances were learned by the defense through an anonymous tip.
Moreover, in an unrelated matter, the Grand Jury has taken notice of reversal by the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District of a conviction because of failure of the District Attorney’s office to reveal information bearing on the credibility and professional competence of a principal prosecution witness. And, in the civil aftermath of an ill-fated sexual abuse prosecution, notice is taken of allegations of failure to disclose and lack of truthfulness on the part of a deputy district attorney as reported in the opinion of the Court of Appeal.
Yet, the Grand Jury has found that prosecutors both in this and other jurisdictions, as well as jurists, were of the opinion that those items of potential evidence which were withheld or ignored by the District Attorney’s office should have been disclosed promptly and voluntarily to the defense. As to the yet unproved allegations of suppression and lack of truthfulness, the Grand Jury can only express its grave concern.
Although the Grand Jury has observed some excellent lawyers in the District Attorney’s office, certain members of that office have become obsessed with the idea of “winning cases.” The fact that “It is their duty to see to it that those accused of crime are afforded a fair trial” has been forgotten or overlooked. Because the District Attorney’s office is charged not only with pursuing and prosecuting criminals, but also with doing justice, the fine balance that must be struck is easily outweighed by overzealous prosecution. An atmosphere of conviction, and conviction only, can be expected to produce inadequate investigation, incomplete disclosure to the defense and sharp practices. The District Attorney must provide leadership to change any such attitudes in his office at the earliest possible time.
San Diego County Board of Supervisors is Negligent and Knowingly Enables Abusive Tactics Including Civil Rights Abuses and Government-Sponsored Child Abuse
The failures and shortcomings in the CPS agency in the county have been brought to the attention of the Board of Supervisors repeatedly. Yet they do effective nothing to fix the problems, leaving CPS and its abusive staff free to continue to abuse the county’s children and parents.
There is no realistic doubt that the current San Diego County Board of Supervisors is substantially at fault for the abuses in the current system. Grand Jury reports have exposed the problems to them over and over again with substantial evidence of the misconduct of CPS and its sister child-abusing agencies. But little to no action is taken to correct the serious deficiencies.
The current Board of Supervisors consists of Greg Cox, Dianne Jacob, Pam Slater-Price, Ron Roberts, and Bill Horn. All five of the supervisors have been in office since 1995 or earlier, a period of time during which Grand Jury investigations have consistently shown that serious problems exist with CPS and that the agency blows off the recommendations to fix them on a routine basis.
The county supervisors have no incentive to clean up problems in the system because to do so, those problems must be discussed further. This is political risk-taking intolerable to them. They know they were in charge during this whole period of time and should have done something about the problems. Doing it now is effectively an admission that they were negligent in the past. Instead, they do all they can to bury these problems behind the scenes so that they are not politically damaged by their harmful and negligent conduct.
(from No Term Limits for San Diego County Supervisors)
Three of San Diego County’s five member Board of Supervisors were sworn in again today. There are no term limits for County Supervisors, and all of them have been on the board for more than 12 years. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.
The Board of Supervisors uses county executives and county counsel such as Walter Ekard and John Sansone to cover up for themselves. These people year after year write “responses” to Grand Jury investigations that whitewash the wrongdoings, hide the responsibility of the Board of Supervisors, make excuses for the agencies not fixing problems, and enable the abuses and misconduct to continue. They also participate in cover-ups and enablement of wrongdoing by individual supervisors, too.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors must be recalled or voted out of office if there is to be any meaningful reform of the abusive County of San Diego Child Welfare Services agency and its related government perpetrators of civil rights, family, and child abuse.
Secondly, the executive staff of the County of San Diego must have its head chopped off. The figurative guillotine should surgically excise Walter Ekard, John Sansone, and people in positions like them out of the top two or three levels of county government. They should be replaced with government officials who understand that they are responsible for ensuring County of San Diego agencies comply with laws, do not abuse the civil rights of families, and do not engage in child abuse and other illegal actions. The replacements for these corrupt executives should not come from within the County of San Diego as the county government is corrupt to its core and the culture of corruption and dishonesty is spread by the executives down the line to social workers as a matter of policy and “de facto” behaviors.
The Board of Supervisors and county executive staff replacements should come from groups that have exercised significant resistance to the wrongdoings of the County. Groups that have argued against civil rights violations, wasteful government spending, and police and law enforcement abuses are prime sources for candidates for these elected and hired positions.
There must also be much more transparency of government implemented in San Diego County. Law enforcement and CPS routinely use the law to hide their misconduct from the public. They cite “privacy concerns” as reasons to fail to release evidence that damns their conduct as corrupt and lawless. Even citizens who have been egregiously wronged have trouble getting to any of this evidence. Further, if they dare oppose the government, they risk retaliation. CPS and the police retaliate against “troublemaking parents” by taking away their children with no good cause and then turning what should be routine investigations that take a few weeks into many months or years of refusal to comply with the law, refusal to comply with judicial directions, and working relentlessly to build a cast of co-conspirators who will help defend each other from their misconduct and pin the blame for it all on the target parent.
San Diego’s children and their parents are not safe from government abuse at the hands of CPS and its allies until the agencies and people who engage in these unlawful and abusive activities are removed from their positions and punished or prosecuted for their misconduct.