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Despite repeated requests, a court order and unfulfilled promises, CPS officials in Giles County Virginia are hiding children as if they were prisoners-of-war. What do they have to hide?
My wife and I are in a nightmare. My name is Fred and my wife, Michelle and I are writing you in hopes of gaining some contact information so that we can obtain visitation and ultimately get our children back as well as try to expose mass corruption with the "system" here in Giles County, Virginia.
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How it all began...
I need to give you a sort of time line of what has happened to us and our children so that you can understand how this all played out.
We moved to Giles County, Virginia in November of 2004. My oldest daughter went to school one day and carried a backpack that a cat had sprayed the night before. On the bus she was called smelly and children held their noses. The name-calling went on for the next 2-years.
She developed low-self-esteem over this so much that when another girl in school pretended to be her friend and offered her a make-over out in the hallway during class - the girl pulled her hair back in a pony tail and cut off at least 8 inches of her hair.
We (the father) asked numerous school and school board officials, counselors, etc. to help intervene and counsel her but nothing helped. We decided to have her transferred to the other high school in the county and the rumors followed her there. She would go into first period and all the kids would hold their noses or make fun of her.
She started to become very un-hygienic. She would not change her sanitary pad at school, and sometimes decided not to wear one at all. She even stopped brushing her hair. She would check out books on every type of eating disorder there was and surround herself with either obese people, (she was only 120 lbs. and 5'8"), so they could comfort her by telling her every day that she was not fat. My daughter did not have an eating disorder.
Just a few little lies...
She would tell the kids that she was not allowed to have sweets, so they brought her candy to school. Then she told them she didn't get enough to eat, so the kids brought her food to school. She had a virtual pantry in her locker, according to my son who also attended high school with her and witnessed these things.
She began wearing her shoes without socks, in the mud and rain, until they stunk so bad we threw them away but at the time we could not afford another pair for her to wear to gym. We told her she would have to sit out for a couple of weeks until we can buy you a new pair. She told her friends and they bought her a new pair of shoes but only after the gym teacher raised her concerns (later was to use this in court but never got a chance to testify).
In June of 2007, our daughter 16, at the time, wrote a note to a friend or e-mailed someone from school, which was intercepted by a counselor who then called "anonymously" to tell Department of Social Services her concerns that we might be withholding food from my daughter. The Department of Social Services came to our doorstep and my daughter was outside.
"Once it is determimed that a child must leave the family unit and go into foster care, a host of other services become available to them which are designed to promote child safety and well-being within a nurturing, family environment. Services provided are tailored to the unique needs of a child..."
Why must children wait? Virigia has a policy of not providing services for children — until they are removed from their home. We must ask WHY?
CPS pays a visit...
When she saw them she went around the back corner of the house while we spoke with caseworkers. They asked us to bring all of the children outside to see them and talk to them. We did and then the caseworkers stated that the children all looked healthy, clean, and well fed - even Katherine who still had not come back to the front porch.
The case workers suggested that we might want to get help for Katherine and we agreed because of serious concerns about her self-esteem and lack of good hygiene. We explained that we were eating fine but needed help for medical and they said to come in and apply for benefits and that they would pay for her to have a psychological evaluation.
A few weeks later we received a letter stating the charges were unfounded but by that time we had decided to let her go to Tennessee, to stay with her paternal grandmother for a short while because she worked at a hospital and offered to get her the help she needed. Three-weeks after being there she was receiving no help and when we inquired as to why not, the grandmother then stated, "Katherine has no problems."
Shortly afterwards, we received a call from her Aunt telling us our daughter took a large amount of vitamins and diet pills. We decided we would go pick her up. After we picked her up, we received a call from the paternal grandmother offering us $5,000.00 to let Katherine come live with her and for us to sign over custody of Katherine to her. We refused.
Once we returned to Virginia we arranged for Katherine to see a counselor offered by DSS. The very first question according to my daughter was from the counselor asking if she had been abused. We decided not to go back and to try to at least get a third person that was not being paid by DSS to attend the sessions. DSS offered to send one of their workers and that to us was pointless.
Threats of court...
A letter came from the social worker that explained that they would get a court to intervene, if we refused to co-operate with the counseling sessions (cooperate with something we volunteered for?). I (Fred) then called DSS of Giles County to tell the caseworker I didn't appreciate the threatening overtone in her letter to my wife and I.
I originally called for Tammy Collins the caseworker who signed the letter but was put through to Sherri Nipper who then proceeded to yell at me about my responsibilities to Katherine in getting her help and the fact that they (DSS) paid $450.00 for the assessment from Becki Hughs (counselor). I offered to pay them back the $450.00 and was told not to, but to continue the sessions with Becki Hughs. We arranged another visit reluctantly. However, just days before the appointment our vehicle tags expired and so I called to cancel the appointment. The secretary informed me that the computer was down, and that she would call or send a letter regarding the next appointment -- it never came nor did I receive a phone call.
Oldest child removed from home...
Then in December 2007, workers who said they had another letter from Katherine raided our home and took her but left the other four children. We later went to court and they dropped a petition for the other four children because during the adjudicatory hearing we requested that Katherine remain in foster care to get help. We thought they were going to get her help so we cooperated with investigations, paperwork, assessments, etc., only to have it used against us later.
We finally had a visit with her after Christmas and the visit went so well (2-hours) that the foster care worker had to end it due to time constraints. Katherine hugged us all and we left on a note of hope for her and our family. Shortly after this we received a summons that the paternal grandmother was petitioning for custody of her without talking to us first.
At court, she stated the workers had told her and Katherine that if she remained in foster care her college and living expenses would be paid for and that she (paternal grandmother) thought that this wasn't a bad idea either. We couldn't believe what we were hearing. My mother did not get custody.
The next day Animal Control was here to take our dogs and cats. We showed him and pleaded with him that we were doing things right and there was no reason to take the dogs so he gave us 24-hours to get things the way he wanted them.
He cited that since we were breeding dogs and advertising them on the Internet that we were technically considered a pet store and that gave them the right to dictate conditions for the dogs. All of the dogs were healthy and well taken care of, so we spent the next 24-hours working around the clock after borrowing $1,000.00 to do the job. We were allowed to keep them the next day.
We then received a large envelope in the mail from DSS asking us to complete assessments for all of the children. Our lawyer asked us to fill them out and cooperate with DSS. We then went in to DSS to meet with the foster care worker who didn't tell us that two of our children were in the next room in an interview.
We later received copies of interviews where DSS had questioned the two older boys together and then the two younger ones together. The difference in the two interviews was like night and day. The younger children told the truth and said what we have been saying all along even when they were obviously trying to trick the children with ambiguous questions.
The older two however, had an interview where even my older son was allowed to conduct the interview at times. He always bullied our 14-year-old at home and it sounded like this was happening in the interview. My 14-year-old is the quiet one in the family and is easily influenced. My older son told him that he (Christian the 14-year-old) would have to do all the work at our house if he returned home. The DSS workers also made a point to give my 14-year-old a second Birthday party along with his 12-year-old sister who turned 12 in April, while in foster care. This 65-page interview supposedly only took 4-minutes to complete.
We then hired an attorney for our case of felony abandonment. We then received letters stating a decision was made where DSS found the allegations unfounded in the cases of my youngest three-children.
The next day we were served with the DSS report, which was totally different from the police report, stating that our son was in town to go to the social services building (at 12 - 2 am?) and went on to say that he was accusing us of the very same thing my oldest daughter had the second time with the exception of there being no sexual abuse. (He later admitted in another interview that he knew every aspect of her case because he would read our court documents when we left to go to the store.)
In my daughters case, I was accused of child abuse, then later mental abuse, then later after my daughter started therapy, with the same therapist I tried to avoid in the first place, they came up with sexual abuse. Even though my son stated to them that he nor any other child or adult had ever witnessed any sexual contact between my daughter, and me DSS thought they had enough to seek a grand jury indictment against me for sexual abuse.
Then one day in April 2008, the detectives were at my door to get evidence of the sexual abuse. They said my daughter claimed she was raped in my bedroom and in the kitchen doorway and that they were to take evidence. They were also looking for a spray bottle like the ones used to clean up with and a pair of blue surgical scrubs my daughter used to wear.
They went in the house and cut up a square of carpet to test for "semen and vaginal fluid" taking measurements of the house and a few photos and then left with only the square of carpet.
A week later I was called to come in to the sheriffs office to be arrested on the indictment. Upon arriving I was read not one but 17-different charges of rape, sodomy, and object penetration and subsequently arrested. I was transported back to the jail in the next county and waited there for a week.
My mother and father in law drove 10-hours to bail me out. The lawyer had to call a circuit court judge and arrange a special hearing because my county did not have court that day. During the hearing the judge asked the prosecutor on the intercom conference call if the state had any evidence and she said no. They had nothing other than my daughters' testimony. The state did not want to give me bond but the judge did.
After arriving home I was surprised to hear that the CASA workers were taking a whole different attitude towards my wife than they did when we were together. They were confident that I would remain in jail and that the severity of the charges would now sever all ties between my in-laws and I. They told her they were here for her and that she could call them anytime.
They said the children were in the best foster homes and that they love us and there was no hatred for us by them. They then went on to arrange a meeting to drop by and pick — up some of the children's favorite things. I asked my wife why because we were supposed to be getting three of our kids back on May 1st at the next hearing.
We spent nearly $12,000.00 that weekend on materials and contractors to help finish fixing the house. We spent the next two weeks fixing the house some more and documenting the work done. We took pictures as well.
One day the CASA workers pulled up and I went inside and came out the front of the house with the kids' things and they had the most perplexed look on their faces. I was unaware that they didn't know I had been released from jail so I was polite and thanked them for being so kind to my wife and when I saw the guardian ad litum with them I told her I was unaware that they were coming to do a inspection of the home and she said, "No, were just here to pick some items up for the kids."
The CASA workers asked if we were doing all of the work ourselves and we told them yes all but a few things and I went on to say that the work should be finished in a few days and that our lawyer had just sent a letter to DSS asking for an inspection the following week. They then left.
A week later in court they all three said we denied them entry into our home. In the next proceeding the DSS put both Katherine and Michael on the stand to testify about abuse that allegedly occurred in our home. This was the first time since December we had seen our daughter and she looked run down, her shoulders were slumped over and she shook and trembled but did not cry as a victim might be expected to do. She did not look at either of us. She sounded as if she were 14-years-old or younger.
Her self-esteem had not improved in the past 4-5 months. Then my son testified and the whole time he was on the stand he looked at both of us as if he wanted help and the things he said sounded recited. The statements he made in the initial police report were now in line with the DSS report version. This was the first time we had seen him in over a month.
The judge had ordered visitation with the younger children in the previous hearing but it never came to pass. When questioned as to why the foster care caseworker stated, "It was at the departments discretion". Our lawyer argued that they were in contempt of the judges' earlier decision and yet the judge placed no contempt charges on DSS.
Then in court the prosecutor had in a sealed bag one of the shirts that we bought for our 14-year-old sons birthday. He claimed that it had an odor from our home in it and submitted it as evidence as to the condition of our home and asked the judge to smell it. Keep in mind that this was a brand new shirt my son had gotten on his birthday and had not even worn it yet. He was in foster care and this was one of two clothing items he had asked CASA workers to bring to him.
The judge smelled it and said it had no odor to it. Then we also found out that the greeting cards we had included with their things had also not been given to the children but had been taken directly to the DSS foster care worker by CASA to be read. I find this strange because all along the CASA volunteers stress that they are an independent agency and are not part of DSS and yet rather than read the cards themselves as we told them they could do they instead went to DSS to try to solidify and bolster their case against us.
The children received their other things about 3-days later. The CASA workers and the GAL then called my in-laws to ask if they had bailed me out and asked why they were not shocked by the charges levied against me. They couldn't believe that they would do this for me. The foster care worker Oma McReynolds also told my mother-in-law that no matter what we would not be getting our children back, so my mother-in-law asked to speak to someone over her head and all of the workers (Phil Blankenbeckler, Mike Dobbins, and Sherri Nipper) involved said that the foster care worker that we had been dealing with was where the buck stopped. I know different.
I have spoken to the former commissioner Maurice Jones in the past and things got done. I will be writing the new commissioner with a copy of this letter and will also be sending one to the national office to Mr. Leavitt. My in-laws who again drove 10-hours were promised visitation on May 3 (a Sunday) and we, the parents were promised visitation on May 5th (We originally asked on April 4th) but that too came and went with no visitation for any of us. This same weekend we spent another $3,000.00 to buy things to help improve our home so that there could be no excuse.
This whole time the caseworkers from DSS (Oma McReynolds, Sherri Nipper, Phil Blankenbeckler, Mike Dobbins), CASA volunteers (Pete and Marcia Zanetich), and the GAL (Janet Tuckwiller) had been telling us that the reason for not returning the kids to their home was because of the condition of the house in March. To this day May 8th we still have not had one supervised visit with 4 of our 5 children.
We are scheduled to go to court again on May 12th for a hearing where DSS is going to make us pay child support for our oldest daughter who is turning 18 in August but they want to extend it until she is 19-years-old. (We went and they (DSS and their attorney) said they expect me to obtain a job in Williamsburg if it is offered and framed their case in such a way as to make it look as if we weren't willing to support our children.
The judge ordered us to pay $360.00 a month. Part of this fee will go to reimburse the DSS for "costs" of my daughter while she was in foster care from December 07 through today and any future expenses. (This was the amount awarded for one child.) I have no problem supporting my children as we have done for 17-years. I find it hard to swallow that the DSS expects us to move several counties away to pursue work elsewhere, while my children remain in foster care in the neighboring counties on the other end of the state.
We go to court again on May 29th for a dispositional hearing for the other four children. Then in July, my wife and I go to court over the felony charge of abandonment. Then I go to court to defend myself against rape charges (trial to be set). Then in August, we go back for a final word on my oldest daughter (6-days before her 18th birthday) to see if she will remain in foster care or be allowed to live on her own, at least that's my understanding of it.
The biggest shame of all is that DSS and CASA are working hand in hand to alienate our children from us. They get away with exaggerating findings, lying under oath, manipulating the facts, suppressing evidence that would prove we were the ones who asked them for help, and they are using the fact that we were once homeless to convince a judge that we are unfit parents. My wife and I have had some very hard times in the past but we grew from it and have been together for 20-years.
Throughout it all our children were well fed, clean, attended school and some even made honor roll on a regular basis along with other certificates of achievement. Everything and every decision we have made as parents, good or bad, have been for the ultimate well-being and proper care of our children. The social service workers in this state and nationwide are operating with immunity and stealing good parents' children and doing more harm to children than good.
If a family is or in our case was homeless I think that DSS is supposed to help them not use the situation for evidence to deem the parents unfit. We have been in our current home for over 4-years. There is so much more to this story that I can tell and have documented proof, proving we were good parents and have rectified our living conditions to satisfy the DSS, CASA, and the court but it is too much to list here.
If you or anyone you know can help us please respond to this email with their contact information. Thank you.
Giles County, Virginia
To: Whom It May Concern,
May 13, 2008
I am writing in hopes of obtaining visitation with three of my five children who are now in foster care. We have been denied repeated requests for visits. Our lawyer has sent a letter requesting visitation after the judge ordered it and it fell on deaf ears. We have not seen four of them since they were removed from our home on March 27th.
The judge ordered visitation with them on April 25th. Later on May 1, 2008 Oma McReynolds told the judge that they did not comply with the court order because she felt that visitation was at her and the departments discretion. These are supervised visitations we are trying to obtain.
The foster care worker Oma McReynolds had promised us visitation on May 5th and said she would be calling to schedule a time for this. This visitation never occurred. She had also promised visitation to my in-Laws Mike and Berta Ruble on May 3rd, which is on a Sunday. They drove 10-hours to be here for the court date on May 1, 2008 and stayed until the 3rd in hopes of a visit but never received one.
Meanwhile Ms. McReynolds has also stated to my in-laws that we will not be getting our children back and that she is the highest authority within the department, which is false. The main reason according to DSS for not returning the younger 3 to the home was due to the condition of the home.
My in-laws have helped us by giving us more than $18,000.00 to make the needed repairs and pay contractors to fix water damage and plumbing work. We have now rectified the living conditions. It has been 4-months since we had a visit with our oldest daughter Katherine, and over two-months since we have seen our other four children ages 10, 12, 14, 16. I was told it was policy to allow visits after the initial 2-weeks of placement in foster care.
Mike and Berta Ruble the maternal grandparents asked workers at Giles County DSS if there was anyone who supervised Oma McReynolds and they were told no. It is my hope that someone within your department will investigate this and prevent our children from being further alienated from their parents and grandparents. They are currently divided up among 3-separate foster homes.
I am also sending this letter to Giles County DSS Director, Linda Boggs and foster care worker Oma McReynolds; Governor Kaine; State DSS Commissioner Conyers; Regional Supervisor, Mrs. Norris; and Michael Leavitt at the National Headquarters of the ACF; Lisa Pearson, with the Regional ACF; Virginia Congressman Rick Boucher; Virginia Legislator Ann Crockett-Stark; and Senator Hillary Clinton; in an effort to get some results.
Giles County, Virginia
May 24th, 2008
We did get our visitations after the letters went out. My wife had one with my oldest daughter and the DSS workers let them talk about the case and I guess it was in an effort to win her over to their side. The interview raised several more questions and holes in DSS and my daughters' story. Now my daughter is apparently getting group therapy and recovered memory therapy because now she says it started when she was 7.
I was able to attend two other visitation sessions with my younger children on the 23rd. In one of them my son, 14, states that he heard from his 12-year-old sister that DSS told us that both him and his older brother did not want to come home. I said, "Yes, that's what they are saying," and I asked, "Do you want to come home?" and on video they both nodded yes, then the 14-year-old said yes and immediately afterwards we were interrupted by the DSS caseworkers telling us we cannot ask if they want to come home.
The oldest boy with spiked hair now (on video) also said that things weren't as bad as they made them out to be at home with us - he was also wearing a $70.00 pair of Jeans, $90.00 pair of Tennis Shoes, $30.00 sunglasses, bleached hair, and had also bought himself a bike with the money they are giving him in foster care. Why is it that they are throwing money at him and not my others? He had a burn on his arm that he received while in foster care but said he scratched it playing football. I used to work in a clinic and know what a burn is.
My 16-year-old son has called my mother-in-law to say he was sorry that he lied and that he and his brother are not in a good situation. The foster mom ripped his stereo out of the wall and broke it (the one we just bought him) and that they (foster mom and social worker) are yelling at him a lot because he is recanting his initial story. He says they are trying to brainwash him and his brother and telling him that if he recants he could go to jail.
My 16-year-old son found a way to get letters to us admitting he lied and how sorry he was, signed, and dated. He went on to describe abuses going on in the foster home and the condition of the home. I called the police to check it out and they gave the foster parents 5-6 hours time before they showed up. My son says that for some odd reason she cleaned the whole house before the police came and removed all 17-20 guns from the home and had her husband hide them at his work. He stated they took all the phones out of the house, will not let him, his brother, and another foster child go anywhere now unless accompanied by them. The police then returned the next day to threaten him.
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