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"Under law, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty. In reality, just the allegation of sexual abuse can damage relationships forever."
~Defense Attorney Kristin Burkett
Florida CPS News Archive
Florida News Coverage
Florida Subsidizes Benefits for Gay Man's Adopted Son
Florida child welfare administrators agreed Tuesday to subsidize services for a teen adopted by a gay man, the Miami Herald reports, noting that the decision chips away at the state's ban on adoption by gays.
A judge had approved Key West lawyer Wayne LaRue Smith's adoption of the boy, whose name was not made public, in 2008, despite the state ban. Smith had been the boy's foster father since 2001, when he was 5 years old, and became his legal guardian in 2006.
February 11, 2010
DCF to pay $250,000 in case of slain Pasco child
The Florida Department of Children & Families has agreed to pay settlements totaling $250,000 in the case of a 2-month-old girl who died after she was improperly placed in her biological father's care.
Authorities received a report of abuse two months later after both children sustained serious injuries. Diella Ludwig died of blunt trauma to the head Dec. 21, 2008. Shyloh suffered a leg fracture. Court documents indicate that Shyloh has recovered.
Tampa Bay Online
February 10, 2010
Fla. Teen Accused of Lighting Boy on Fire Goes Free
A 13-year-old arrested after a South Florida boy was doused with an accelerant and burned won't face criminal charges.
Jeremy Jarvis was the youngest of five arrested for the alleged attack on Michael Brewer in October. Prosecutors said Tuesday there wasn't enough evidence to pursue the charges.
January 13, 2010
Tiger Woods: State senator calls for investigation into false child abuse report against Tiger Woods
In the midst of the Tiger Woods sex scandal, newspapers around the globe reported that Florida child abuse investigators visited the golfer's Orlando area home to assess the safety of his daughter and infant son.
Nothing came of the matter. Now, a state senator who oversees Florida's Department of Children & Families is calling for an investigation into whether someone knowingly filed a false child abuse report against the Woods family, perhaps needlessly traumatizing the Woods children and wasting time and tax dollars. Doing so is a felony.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
January 11, 2010
Grandfather of missing baby says life was hard on mom
Elizabeth Johnson's grandfather says she grew up with a drug-addicted father and an alcoholic mother and then bounced around five different foster homes.
She has always been impulsive, secretive and prone to fits of rage. A relative says that as a child, she would break windows in her home and chased her father with a plunger.
The Arizona Republic
January 10, 2010
Florida Child Abuse Deaths Rise in Bad Economy
About 200 children were fatally abused in Florida in 2008, a roughly 20%increase from 2007. Unemployment rates and drug use also increased in the state - a factor in many of the deaths, according to a preliminary report.
The number of kids fatally abused who had involvement with the state child welfare agency also increased 20 percent, the State Child Abuse Death Review Committee determined in a report obtained by The Associated Press. In 2008, 79 children were killed who had some type of involvement with the Department of Children and Families in the past five years, compared with 66 children who died in 2007.
December 29, 2009
Tiger Woods Update at oh he is in trouble CPS visits his home
Odd. So the Florida Department of Children and Families came to Tiger Woods house near Winderemere on mid day Saturday.
They were escourted by deputies from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Reports from that incident indicated there was a heated altercation between Tiger and wife Elin over his cheating. it is protocol for DCF to investigate after an in-home suspected domestic violence incident.
December 14, 2009
Fla. judges, lawyers must 'unfriend' on Facebook
Florida's judges and lawyers should no longer "friend" each other on Facebook, the popular social networking site, according to a ruling from the state's Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.
At least one South Florida judge warned her pals with a Facebook status update that they could be "unfriended," and the ruling has prompted others to do the same. The committee ruled Nov. 17 that online "friendships" could create the impression that lawyers are in a special position to influence their judge friends.
December 12, 2009
At reform school where boys were beaten, some fear closure
MARIANNA -- Black leaders here say the state soon could shutter a controversial reform school where more than 200 men claim they endured brutal abuse as boys.
Despite that, local NAACP members say they will lobby to keep the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys open. The state has acknowledged some abuse occurred at the school, known in the past as the Florida School for Boys, for decades through the 1960s. A small, cinder-block building, allegedly where the most brutal beatings occurred, has been sealed. But the state Department of Law Enforcement has said an investigation revealed no evidence of wardens beating boys to death.
The News Herald
December 1, 2009
Man Pleads Guilty To Choking Son Over Diaper
PALM BAY, Fla. -- A Palm Bay man will spend the next two years in prison for choking his two-year-old son because he soiled his diaper.
Miguel Torres de la Rosa plead guilty to tying a belt around the boy's neck and trying to strangle him. He was also forced to give up parental rights to the child.
November 27, 2009
Family mourns as fallen soldier comes home
Friends and family are remembering the life and mourning the death of Army Spec. Eric Lembke, who died while on duty in Afghanistan Oct. 23.
As a child Lembke was in foster care, his wife said. He was adopted by Dorothy Lembke, who cared for foster children, when he was 12, she said. While he was in school, Lembke took a job at the Orange Blossom Tea Room on Evers Street.
Plant City Courier & Tribune
November 4, 2009
Hearing Rifqa Bary's plea: 'I knew this threat was real'
As Ohio judicial and child protective services accept responsibility for the welfare of Rifqa Bary -- the 17-year-old runaway who fled to Orlando in July in fear of her life from her Muslim parents because of her conversion to Christianity.
The widely covered case of Rifqa Bary is shifting from Florida to Ohio now that an Orlando judge has ordered she be put in the custody of Franklin County Children Services, having previously ruled her case is the proper jurisdiction of the Ohio court system.
Florida Baptist Witness
October 28, 2009
Ex-Muslim teen ordered back to Ohio
Rifqa Bary, a 17-year-old girl who fled her family's home after converting from Islam to Christianity, has been ordered to return to Ohio where she will be in the custody of a local children's services agency.
The decision, announced Oct. 13, reportedly was supported both by her lawyers and attorneys for her parents, natives of Sri Lanka who now reside in the Columbus area, according to a report by the Orlando Sentinel.
October 15, 2009
Mom of Boy Set on Fire: It's "Disgusting"
The mother of a 15-year-old boy who was set on fire by his classmates said on "The Early Show" that violence among children needs to stop. Valerie Brewer said what happened to her son Michael Brewer is "disgusting."
Michael has burns on 65 percent of his body after he was doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire. Five boys, who are all 13 to 15 years old, have been charged in the attack. Broward County police say Michael owed one of the suspects Matthew Bent $40 for a video game. When he didn't pay up Bent allegedly tried to steal a $500 custom bicycle, belonging to Brewer's father.
October 15, 2009
Collier judge doesn't buy man's claim he gave up custody of children at gunpoint
NAPLES -- A Naples father who terminated parental rights to his children last year lost an attempt at regaining his rights Friday, when a judge didn't believe he signed away custody after being threatened at gunpoint.
The ruling by Collier Circuit Judge Elizabeth Krier is the latest chapter in the saga of two children whose mother was the target of a nationwide search in April, when she left Florida while they were under the supervision of the state Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Naples Daily News
September 19, 2009
Christians Defend Runaway Teen
Christian ministers close to an Ohio teen who ran away to Florida claiming her Muslim parents threatened to kill her for converting from Islam say they have no doubt that Rifqa Bary's allegations are true.
Roger Weeden, an attorney for Bary's mother, Aysha, said a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) report indicates there is "no evidence out there whatsoever" to corroborate Bary's allegations. Weeden was prevented from saying anything more because the report has been sealed for 10 days while the attorneys review its findings.
September 4, 2009
Lake Wales Man Suspect in Teen Girl's Death
LAKE WALES -- A 22-year-old Lake Wales man has been charged with aggravated child abuse in connection with the death of a 17-year-old runaway who was in foster care.
Nathaniel Abbatoy may have contributed to the death of the girl by providing her drugs such as cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine, according to Polk sheriff's arrest records. He was arrested Monday and released Tuesday from the Polk County Jail on bond of $17,500.
August 15, 2009
Despite austere budget, Florida adoptions grow
At age 17, Amber Holley knew that the odds of being adopted were grim. After 11 years in Florida's foster-care system, living mostly in group homes, she had started telling people she just wanted to be left alone - even if she didn't really mean it.
But three months ago, after being won over by a compassionate caseworker, Amber became one of a record 3,774 foster kids in the state to be adopted during the past fiscal year. Many of them were considered difficult to place because of their age or because they are part of a group of siblings.
August 7, 2009
A woman's story of heartache and healing
Vickie Green was on her hands and knees in the road. Blood streamed down her arms, like a faucet flowing red. The smoky exhaust of gunfire blended with the smell of seared flesh. The 41-year-old Jacksonville woman couldn't speak.
Had she seen herself, she would have known why. Vickie's tongue was dangling free, with no bottom jaw to hold it in. She had a final thought as she dragged herself up, tracking blood down the sidewalk as she staggered for help. Please don't let me die. Then everything went black.
August 2, 2009
4-year-old child eats Skittles laced with narcotics investigation continues
Sunday, July 26, 2009, little Bailey Barzano, a 4-year-old girl was taken to the hospital after eating a Skittles candy.
Currently, no one is certain how the Oxycodone managed to get inside a bag of Skittles that appeared to be sealed shut. Additionally, no one is sure how Bailey managed to get the bag of candy in the first place.
Tampa Crime Examiner
July 28, 2009
A new approach for child welfare
After her daughter and a daughter-in-law were each jailed on drug charges last fall, Sylvia Kimble, 46, poor and with a deeply troubled history of her own, struggled to care for six grandchildren.
Only a few years ago, officials here say, the safest path would have been to split up the children in foster care. Yet here they are, rambunctious children wrestling in her living room, Kimble encouraging her daughter's outpatient drug rehabilitation while also arranging for summer camp and a family trip to a water park.
July 26, 2009
Florida Remakes Its Child-Welfare System
Officials in Florida shifted spending of federal foster care aid to focus on keeping families intact and to finance prevention and mental health treatment.
While the focus on preserving families has taken hold in several states, here it has been backed by a federal waiver that allows the state to use foster care financing for prevention and mental health, an approach that advocates of the program hope will become standard nationwide. In less than three years, Florida has reduced the number of children in foster care by 32 percent.
The New York Times
July 26, 2009
Deputies: Children alone 2 hours while parents swam at Disney pool
A Michigan couple left their foster children, ages 2 and 4, alone in their Walt Disney World hotel room for two hours Friday while they swam and tanned at the resort's pool, deputies said.
Stephen Simmons, 49, and Kimberly Simmons, 41, were booked into the Orange County Jail on charges of child neglect. Officials at the Department of Children and Families, who have custody of the children, said leaving a child unsupervised is a serious safety risk.
July 20, 2009
Drunken driver in wedding party crash gets 25 years
Last month, the 38-year-old Lakeland man pleaded guilty to five counts of DUI manslaughter in exchange for a 25-year sentenced and 10 years of probation. He faced up to 85 years.
Foster also revoked Stewart's Florida driver's license for life and ordered that he not drink while on probation. He will get credit for the nearly three years he's already served. Prosecutors said that about 3 a.m. on April 21, 2006 Stewart ran a red light in Brandon and crashed into a Mercedes-Benz carrying the bride's relatives.
St. Petersburg Times
July 17, 2009
First Bills for 2010 Filed in State House
Twelve bills have been filed in the House for the 2010 session, including the latest attempt to legalize adoption by gay couples, a measure that would eliminate the statute of limitations for civil wrongful death actions and a bill to add homeless people
All three of those bills have been filed before, with the most high profile being the measure that would make it clear that gay couples are allowed to adopt children in Florida. A Miami-Dade judge last year struck down the state law that bars homosexuals from adopting, but the case is on appeal.
The Jacksonville Observer
July 7, 2009
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