By Ed Runyan
The attorney for an alleged rape victim’s grandmother says he believes employees with the Trumbull County Children Services Board should be placed on leave while a criminal investigation is undertaken.
Atty. David Engler, who represents Loretta Banks of Warren, grandmother of a 1-year-old girl purportedly raped by her biological parents during a visit at the CSB offices on Reeves Road in July, suggested the leave in a letter he made public Monday.
The letter, written to Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, says Engler believes CSB employees under investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation should not have access to records related to the case.
“Will they alter records? Will they destroy records?” Engler asks in the letter. Engler doesn’t name specific employees.
Nick Kerosky, executive director of CSB, said his office is cooperating with investigations. If investigators suggested to him that anyone be placed on administrative leave, he would do so immediately, Kerosky said.
He added, “If I thought there was a need to do it, I would do it.”
Engler previously asked Watkins to seek a special prosecutor to look at whether any CSB employees committed a crime as a result of allowing the type of visitation they did.
Watkins said “at this point, there is no need for a special prosecutor,” but BCI did agree to investigate the matter at Watkins’ request.
Engler said CSB employees might be guilty of child endangering for reportedly allowing the couple to be alone with the child despite CSB having records indicating the child’s father, Cody Beemer, 22, of Warren, had been previously convicted of a sex crime.
Cody Beemer and his wife, Felicia Beemer, 21, have been charged with rape and are in the Trumbull County jail awaiting trial. Police say the Beemers captured the crimes on a cellphone video.
Meanwhile, The Vindicator has obtained a copy of CSB’s internal policy regarding visitation of children in the agency’s custody.
It refers to cases in which “interaction between the parent and child has already been deemed to be inappropriate” and says such visitations should not be conducted outside of the agency’s offices. Suspension or termination of visitation should be rare, the policy says.
The policy doesn’t say whether electronic monitoring of visits should be used or whether CSB employees can leave the room periodically.
Kerosky, however, in a telephone call Monday, described the policy as having a range of options, from “eyes in the room, to on-camera, to someone popping in for a visit every 10 to 15 minutes.”
As for statements from Engler and others that the visit in question involved two hours in which no camera was used and no employee was present except at the beginning and end, Kerosky said he couldn’t talk specifically about it except that it fell within the range of the policy.
“I think everyone should let the investigation run its course,” Kerosky said.