When are we going to stop this madness. Children are stolen by CPS and the courts allow them to get away with it – Is this really in the best interest of the child????
By Leslie Slape / The Daily News | Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2010 5:26 pm | No Comments Posted
Leslie Slape / The Daily News
Mark Workinger appears at his arraignment Thursday. .
..A state child protective services worker has been charged in Cowlitz County Superior Court with first-degree child molestation and two counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes from acts alleged to have occurred about a decade ago.
Mark Edmond Workinger, 56, of Castle Rock pleaded not guilty Thursday to the allegations, which were investigated by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office at the request of the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office to avoid potential conflict of interest.
For the same reason, the Cowlitz County prosecutor deputized Jeff McMarty of the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office, and visiting judge James W. Lawler presided at Thursday’s arraignment. Bruce Hanify is Workinger’s defense attorney.
Lawler set the trial date for Aug. 30.
Workinger has been employed in the Kelso office of Child Protective Services since February 2001, said Sheri Hill, a spokeswoman the Department of Social and Health Services, CPS’s parent agency.
Most of his work involved evaluating the homes of potential foster parents or adoptive parents, she said. Workinger was not a foster parent himself, she said.
“In the last six months he has also helped conduct CPS investigations” into allegations of abuse or neglect, she said.
The victim, now 14, was 4 or 5 years old at the time of the incidents, which are alleged to have taken place between January 2000 and August 2001 in Cowlitz County. She was not a CPS client at the time, Hill said.
Hill said she was not aware of any other victims, but law enforcement is continuing to investigate.
Workinger was placed on “alternative assignment so he didn’t have client contact” the instant DSHS was informed in early June about the investigation, she said. Court documents did not indicate what prompted authorities to begin an investigation.
Workinger turned himself in at Woodland Police Department Tuesday and was booked into the Cowlitz County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.
According to court documents, Workinger admitted fondling himself in front of the girl, showing her a pornographic magazine and making her touch him inappropriately.
Although Workinger told Offender Services workers that he had been fired upon arrest, Hill said he has been placed on paid annual leave pending the outcome of the case. Court documents indicate Workinger is paid $3,200 a month.
As with all department employees, Workinger underwent a background check, she said, and “there has been no prior history” of criminal behavior. Court documents also showed no criminal history.
Law enforcement is taking the lead into the allegations against Workinger, Hill said. At the same time, the state will conduct its own criminal investigation. Kim Witherspoon of the Attorney General’s office and a Vancouver CPS case worker were in court Thursday at a dependency hearing for the victim, who is in foster care.
After the criminal investigations are closed, the Kelso office will make an internal personnel investigation, Hill said.
“The criminal side and the protection of children is most important,” Hill said. “We take very seriously allegations of child abuse and neglect. We expect law enforcement to conduct a fair and thorough investigation and we’re cooperating.”