By ED RUNYAN | firstname.lastname@example.org
A 2011 state investigation of employees at the Trumbull County Children Services agency resulted in no criminal charges but did turn up evidence of deceit.
This is the BCI Investigative Report about the rape of a 9-month-old child by her biological parents during what was supposed to be a supervised visit at Trumbull County Children Services in April 2011.
It was one of several investigations prompted by a video provided to police showing a child being raped in a Children Services visitation room by her biological parents during a supervised visit in April 2011.
Investigator Mark Kollar of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation questioned about six employees about documentation that the agency required employees to file in a statewide database about the supervised visits. He investigated the employees in October and November 2011, resulting in a 71-page investigative report.
Agency policy requires employees to document every visitation involving children in the agency’s custody, and to do it within a few days of the visit. The case worker for the raped child, however, didn’t do that, according to the report.
The woman, not identified in the report because she is not charged, was among several employees who said they did not know of that policy.
After the rape came to light, about six months after it happened, a supervisor asked the employee to put the documentation into the system and did so. But the documentation was from the worker’s memory, not from notes as the agency initially said, according to the investigation.
The worker said the supervisor told her to enter her recollections as if they were from a specific day.
“I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to do that,” she said, but was “just following what she was told to do.”
The agency was in “panic mode” over the allegations then, the worker said.
Another worker, identified as Colleen Lyden, told the investigator about another type of deceit she felt a supervisor had been involved in. It was in regard to notes about visits with the raped child from the several months Lyden supervised the case in late 2010.
Lyden said she had not written notes about each of the visitations she had with the girland the girl’s biological parents, but after the rape surfaced, a supervisor asked her to write some.
“Lyden reportedly refused, stating she had no notes from [some of the] visits and that she couldn’t remember back that far,” the investigation said.
One of the agency’s supervisors later explained that the executive staff decided it would be best if the notes from the visitations were added in October 2011, after the rape was discovered, knowing that they would be time-stamped and understood to be after-the-fact.
Late notes would be better than “not at all,” the supervisor said.
The superviser admitted that the records entered in the system in October were “not necessarily attributable to the dates listed” and “was probably not the best way for them to have done it.”
A later entry, which was made by supervisors after the Kollar investigation began, clarified that the entries were not date-specific, the supervisor said.
A supervisor in another interview contradicted Lyden’s statement that Lyden had refused to enter old data into the computer system — saying the supervisor entered it for Lyden because Lyden “wasn’t there and [deleted] wanted them quick. She stated she created Colleen’s entries from the best of [the supervisor’s] recollection.”
The supervisor said the entries “were not made maliciously and that she was just doing what she was told to do.”
The supervisor then contradicted Lyden’s statement that Lyden had refused to write the entries, saying she was “not aware of that.”
In a followup interview with that supervisor, the supervisor admitted that Lyden had been telling the truth and had refused to write the entries.
The supervisor said she “didn’t intend to appear deceitful and that maybe she was nervous when she [lied]. But since Lyden wouldn’t do the entries, she did them because she had orders to get it done.”
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which carried out its own investigation, criticized Children Services for shoddy record keeping, and one employee was disciplined over it, but details of the deceitfulness were not revealed at the time.
Atty. David Engler represents the grandmother of the raped child and asked for the criminal investigation in a letter to Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins.
Kollar and his agency began the investigation at the request of Watkins, after Warren police were made aware of a cell-phone video showing a 9-month-old child in Children Services custody being raped by her biological parents, Cody and Felicia Beemer. A Warren police investigation eventually resulted in convictions for both parents.
Engler said having read the investigative report, he thinks workers and supervisors involved in the matter should be fired — “the supervisor who was telling the caseworker to falsify and the worker too.”
The agency later carried out steps overseen by the state to improve its record keeping and other policies.
The report makes it clear Kollar attempted to answer another allegation — whether employees placed the child in danger by failing to adequately monitor the visitations.
The employee in charge of supervising the visits at the time the baby was raped told the investigator she was checking on the child and parents about every 15 minutes, as the case plan required.
Engler said he believes the agency was being “lax” during the visits, saying he believes an employee was “only there one or two times over a couple hours,” and in those situations, they would only “put their head in.”
Engler has argued that this was insufficient because the child’s father, Cody Beemer, then 21, had been convicted of a sex offense as a 14-year-old, and agency officials knew it.
Tim Schaffner, executive director of Trumbull Children Services since April 2012, said Wednesday he still believes the supervision of the visits was proper and that workers looked in on the child approximately every 15 minutes.
Nick Kerosky was executive director from November 2010 until April 2012.
The Ohio JFS found that the supervision and case plan for the child was proper, Schaffner said.
There was no way to verify the amount of supervision during the day of the rape because video surveillance equipment in the hallway didn’t work at the time, but it does now, Schaffner said.
As for documentation issues, Schaffner said documentation of visits was “not an area of emphasis at the time.” The rule requiring documentation of every visit was the agency’s rule, but not a rule of the state, he noted.
Schaffner said he thinks the statements and actions of some employees resulted from them being “scared” during the investigation, he said.