No special prosecutor needed in probe of reported child rape at CSB, official says
By Ed Runyan
The attorney representing the grandmother of the 1-year-old child purportedly raped by her parents during a visit at the Trumbull County Children Services Board offices has asked Prosecutor Dennis Watkins to appoint a special prosecutor.
Atty. David Engler says the agency’s failure to protect the child despite knowledge she might be in danger suggests that CSB employees might have committed criminal offenses in need of prosecution.
Because Watkins’ office serves as legal counsel to CSB, his office should not serve as prosecutor in matters involving the agency, Engler added.
In response, Watkins said it’s too soon to say what an independent investigation being conducted by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will show, but “at this point, there is no need for a special prosecutor.”
Engler, who represents Loretta Banks, grandmother of the 1-year-old child, said CSB knew the girl’s father, Cody Beemer, 22, was a juvenile sex offender and that Felicia Beemer, 21, the girl’s mother, had a history of being easily manipulated by her male partners.
And yet when the Beemers visited the child at CSB in July, no employee stayed in the room with them, and there was no electronic monitoring being done, Engler said.
“You put a sexual offender in a room with a child; this [the alleged rape] is foreseeable,” Engler said, adding that the Trumbull County Family Court had ordered that visits at CSB involving the Beemers be supervised.
Cody Beemer and Felicia Beemer are in the Trumbull County jail, charged with rape and other offenses.
Watkins said his office does have a duty to represent the children services board, but his office does not have an obligation to represent the employees within the agency.
Furthermore, his office has a “sound record of being open to independent investigators and special prosecutors” when the need arises.
An example, he said, is the independent prosecution and outside prosecution of David DeChristofaro, former Trumbull County Engineer. He was convicted of improperly using county resources for personal and campaign-related gain.
The CSB asked JFS to conduct a review of CSB’s visitation policies after the incident came to light and after Watkins made a recommendation that it do so.
Meanwhile, Engler said he also will file a request with the family court asking that it appoint custody of the suspected rape victim to another children services board.