Watkins requests probe of CSB over child-rape case
By Ed Runyan
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins has asked state officials to determine whether employees of the Trumbull County Children Services Board committed child endangerment due to an alleged rape of a 1-year-old child in the agency’s care.
The request follows allegations that a Warren couple raped their 1-year-old child during a visitation with the child at the agency’s offices on Reeves Road in July.
Watkins said such an investigation would “ensure that this tragic situation is completely and objectively evaluated by neutral parties.”
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services had agreed earlier to conduct a review of CSB’s procedures related to its child-visitation policies after Watkins suggested the need for it.
Officials have agreed that the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation should conduct the investigation.
Nick Kerosky, CSB executive director, said Thursday his agency does “appreciate” Watkins’ asking BCI to conduct the investigation.
Cody Beemer, 22, and his wife, Felicia Beemer, 21, both of Austin Avenue Southwest, are charged with rape and other offenses. They are in the Trumbull County Jail awaiting trial. If convicted, they could be sent to prison for life.
Police have said the alleged rape of the Beemers’ child, and the alleged molestation of an 18-month-old boy they were baby-sitting in June or July, were depicted on cellphone videos the Beemers made.
Meanwhile, an attorney for the victim’s grandmother says CSB committed a “clear violation of the Open Meetings Act” Tuesday by preventing several people from attending a board meeting.
Atty. David Engler, who represents Loretta Banks of Warren, filed a civil complaint Thursday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court seeking an injunction to prevent the agency from barring citizens from future meetings.
Banks put her name on a sign-in sheet and attended the meeting, but several other people who planned to attend the meeting said Wednesday they were kept out because they refused to use a CSB sign-in sheet.
Among those kept out of the meeting were Patricia Paridon of Niles, three Warren residents, a Canton resident and a Massillon resident.
“There is no sign-in exception to the Ohio Open Meetings Act,” the filing said. Engler said his payment for filing the action will come from legal fees CSB will have to pay if the suit is successful.
Kerosky said the sign-in sheet has been used at the agency for roughly 20 years, and its purpose is for protection of the children and staff.
Also on Thursday, Engler filed a petition in Trumbull County Juvenile Court on behalf of Banks, seeking an order of temporary custody of her granddaughter.
It’s not to allow her to have physical custody, Engler said. It’s so that she has legal “standing” to ask the court to transfer custody of the child from the Trumbull CSB to a CSB in another adjacent county.