A should i call cps? thread - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 02:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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well- i'm kind of already planning this out, but would like some input

this past week, a relative, S, confessed to being frequently molested by her step father from ages 4-12. this was 40 years ago, so well past the statute of limitations for my state.

S is sure he also molested some teen foster girls that were in the home, and has heard from another teen in the town about the same thing, all decades ago too

my cousins, (or well, my dp's cousins -- this is my in-laws) were around this man often through their childhood. they are both still minors. they spent a significant amount of time being babysat by this man and his wife-- who are their biological grandparents.

S is not ready/able to confront this right now. my dp and i are taking over.

i'm trying to figure out where to start. i'm thinking i'll call the cousins' school counselors first. contacting their mother might not help at all -- she is hostile to S. and if she's aware of the abuse of S., she doesn't believe it.

dp and i have little to no relationship to them and they are 4 hours away.

or, i could go ahead and call cps. the complaint here is that the cousins have spent a significant amount of time around a pedophile. they both have obvious self-esteem problems, and come from a very dusfunctional home as it is.

anyone have advice? i feel strongly that someone needs to investigate and find out if these girls have been harmed by him.

i'm also configuring plans around writing to the local police department to notify them of this man, and maybe even writing to his neighbors to warn them.
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#2 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 02:31 AM
 
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If it were me I would call CPS wherever these minors are living to report the situation. I would also call the police or go to a station to talk with them. I think perhaps they could advise on how to proceed and maybe they would be willing to speak with the school counselors. If not, I would also choose to speak with the school myself to make them aware of the potentially abusive situation these children are in. I am one to stick my foot in my mouth rather than air on the side of caution but I would want to make sure this guy never set foot in the school again so I would probably share a *bit* more information than might be totally necessary. Anyhow, it's not a question of whether this guy is a pedophile or not - you know he is - so hopefully this fact (even though it's not "proven" in a court) will help seriously expedite an investigation into any children who may currently be in danger.

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#3 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 02:32 AM
 
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This is tricky because, as of right now, you are working on accusations alone. I'm sure the accuser is credible and I am sure she would not come forward with this if it wasn't true, but you don't want to jump the gun with CPS. The deal with them is that they want proof, not rumors, accusations or hearsay.

They would want to talk to the accuser, and you said she's not able to confront this right now. You'll have to take that into account. If they can't get it from her, then it won't carry as much weight. There are so many calls and so many complaints, and by law they have to investigate every single one, that they don't have time to sift through the he-said, she-said of most reports.

You need to find out from the minors currently exposed to him if there's indeed a threat. If those girls won't talk to you, perhaps they will or already have talked to someone else (teacher, counselor, pastor, parent, etc.). Or you can encourage one of those authority figures to talk to the girls and see what they say. There needs to be a report made to the police, or to CPS by an actual victim who would be willing to testify should it come to that.

A relative of mine witnessed her own child with a second-hand high from being exposed to drug use while in the custody of his father (weekend visitation). The father had another young child by his second wife who was also affected. My relative called CPS who looked into it and promptly closed the case due to lack of concrete evidence. The children involved had even described the drug use to the investigator and pointed out where the drugs were usually kept. All of that, and it was dismissed anyway.

CPS can only do so much. You need proof and unfortunately that may need to come from one of the victims or her parents. Sexual assualt is taken very seriously and they probably will not charge someone with it unless they are sure they can back that charge up. If a complaint is made and then dismissed, the next complaint may not be viewed as seriously.

That being said, the minor children currently exposed to this dangerous man need to be protected. If there's any way to immediately ensure he won't be alone with them in the near future, steps should be taken to that end.

I really hope you can help these girls and all the potential victims that have been involved. I'll be thinking of you and watching for updates.


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#4 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 02:33 AM
 
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school counselors and cps.

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#5 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 02:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaMary View Post
Anyhow, it's not a question of whether this guy is a pedophile or not - you know he is - so hopefully this fact (even though it's not "proven" in a court) will help seriously expedite an investigation into any children who may currently be in danger.
You do want to tread lightly... remembering that nothing is proven yet. Of course you believe it and most others will also, but there are also legal implications to starting a "witch hunt" against someone who hasn't been formally charged. The first thing authority figures are going to do is question your motives, which will take the focus off of HIM... and that's where the focus needs to be.

Wishing you oh so much luck... and I am also so sorry this had to happen. (((hug)))


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#6 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 02:39 AM
 
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just a word of caution....if you tell people or write people that this man is a pedophile with no legal proof that is slander and you can be sued.
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#7 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 02:41 AM
 
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Is he currently in contact with children? (I'm sleepy and might have misunderstood your post )

CPS won't take a report unless there is a current minor victim.

The police might - but even then, they probably want a current victim.
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#8 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 02:41 AM
 
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When you call CPS, it is up to them to do the investigation work and decide where to go from there. Telling them that you are concerned for the kids is a responsible thing to do. Otherwise, you become just another person enabling the pedophile to get away with it. If in fact he is molesting them. But it is up to CPS and the law to do the work on that one.

Good luck.
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#9 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 03:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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i'll make sure to say alleged pedophile

my cousins are still in contact with him in a family sort of way, and they live in the same town still -- but there's no more babysitting going on

we have a letter from S. explaining her abuse. while she may not be ready to make a statement right now, i'm thinking i have no choice but to use her letter as evidence of what a horrible man this guy is -- even if she wouldn't want me to use the letter......

we very carefully approached the situation with S. she made it clear she didn't want to talk about it, but said she hopes that nothing happened to the cousins because they are his bio grandkids. S. was his step-daughter, and his then and current wife's bio daughter.

the abuse S. describes is pathological. if the cousins escaped it it probably is truly only because the sicko found himself unattracted to his own blood, or because he was too afraid of their father finding out. their father does not have custody of them and has rarely lived with them, was gone for years, but he's a scary guy and sicko seemed to respect him from what S. said.

one could say there's an okay chance that the cousins are untouched?

but there's no way sicko could ever be indicted unless all angles were covered. i don't mean for that to sound like my motive is to use the cousins as a way to nab him or uncover all the info -- because of course i'd hate for them to go through any trauma because of outsiders getting involved in their lives like this.



it's a sticky situation.
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#10 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 03:38 AM
 
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This is tricky because, as of right now, you are working on accusations alone. I'm sure the accuser is credible and I am sure she would not come forward with this if it wasn't true, but you don't want to jump the gun with CPS. The deal with them is that they want proof, not rumors, accusations or hearsay.
No. Absolutely not the usual course of things. Actually, CPS wants any reasonable suspicion to be reported. *They* want to do the investigating. When other people go around hunting for proof, they "contaminate" the future investigation and often create great problems. Investigations must be conducted by the professionals. I can't emphasize that enough. Likewise, when other people ignore a problem because they don't "have proof," a potential abuser is allowed to continue abusing.

Oh yeah, and in general, you can't be sued for slander over something like this. In some states you can get into big trouble for *intentionally* mis-reporting or reporting *something you know for a fact is untrue*. But all states want any report of potential abuse whether or not you know for sure what is happening.

You said there are cousins involved who are still minors. Those kids deserve protection. Yes, I would absolutely call and report. I would explain it exactly as you did here in your original post. In fact, I am a mandated reporter in my state due to my work and to the fact that I am a foster parent, and thus I am legally obligated to do so (in some states all citizens are mandated reporters, so you might be a mandated reporter as well).

Call. Call. Call. Call CPS where the kids are living, and also where the man is living if it is a different country. It's the only reasonable thing to do if there is even a chance this man is abusing or has abused these cousins.

FYI, CPS may or may not handle the case because it does not involve the immediate family...depending on how your state's system works. They may send the case over to the police because it involves an extended relative. Or they may have you call the police. Either way, you are doing the same thing. You are making a report regarding a reasonable suspicion that youth are at risk of being harmed. This is not only legally acceptable, but expected.

By the way, as a mandated reporter I have been in many sticky situations. I have been in situations where it was so unclear to me whether I was required to call by the mandate, and whether I should call. I promise you: from what you described, this is *not* a sticky situation. This is as clear as day.

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#11 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 04:33 AM
 
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reporting a suspected incident to CPS was slander...or is reporting to the police.However, calling your cousin counselor at school or neighbors to "warn" them IS slander.
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#12 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 10:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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well, calling the school counselor would immediately start a call to cps, since they are mandated reporters, so that wouldn't be slander, but yes, i'm going to be careful about what gets said to the neighbors

HOWEVER, this sicko is quite poor, living off ss and his wife's part time job -- so i'm not concerned about litigation when it comes to slander

thanks for your clear talk sierra -- i will especially point out your post as i send this to my dp -- he is the one more inclined to want to take this slowly and not step over boundaries with the family

he's a smart man and will totally come around -- it's just dragging a bit more than i feel comfortable with

unfortunately i'm a bit dependent on his help because as of now i do not know the cousin's last names or the name of the town/school district they
are in

so, dear partner, are you reading this?? not only is it important that we report as soon as possible, but it is EXPECTED

your family member is a pedophile and has to be stopped, no matter how angry members of your family might be for our meddling!!!!!!
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#13 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 10:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by studentmidwifemama View Post
When you call CPS, it is up to them to do the investigation work and decide where to go from there. Telling them that you are concerned for the kids is a responsible thing to do. Otherwise, you become just another person enabling the pedophile to get away with it. If in fact he is molesting them. But it is up to CPS and the law to do the work on that one.

Good luck.
I agree with this. Call CPS. But I personally would not recommend you call the school at this time. If the goal of calling the school is to alert the community, CPS has that role. I'd ask them if they think it's a good idea, for sure.

But - if the goal of calling the school is to get the kids help - I just don't see how that would work. You don't know the kids' last names, you're not a close family member, and you're going to call the school to try to get the kids - counselling? Without the knowledge of their parents? I can't see how that would work. Maybe other people know more about the system there.

I know that your motives are really good, but it's a sensitive situation. CPS is the organization that has the role of looking into it.

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#14 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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well the only reason i'm thinking of calling the school is because i've seen it done before, in a situation where my neighbor and i called cps about two little girls who were getting physically abused on the weekends by their father

my neighbor called the school. i can't remember if it was to notify them that she had contacted cps, or if it was to alert them that she was afraid that sever abuse was going on in the home.

the school was grateful for the call, the counselor went ahead and got daily talks set up with the kids, and the school themselves also made an additional cps report as they are mandated to

it turned out that the kids got to chek in with their counselors even before cps came to their house

it's weird how it worked out, but as i understand it, cps gets school counselors involved immediately anyway and the counselors will call the kids in for a chat without notifying the parents

my cousins are both teens -- it may sound weird that i've got this line in my head but if they were younger i would definitely make sure their mother knew what i was doing as i did it

otherwise this is dp's and i dilemma -- are we going to wait for feedback from the family before we make a report, or will we just do it and tell. i have reason to suspect that the cousins' mother would do something like warn her kids not to talk if she knew it was happening because she's definitely done her share of hiding and denying other abuses in the family.
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#15 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 10:54 AM
 
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This is not an issue of slander. First, if she calls and says someone she knows said S. had molested her, that is 100% true and therefore is not slander. Second, even if she called him a pedophile, she is speaking from a point of her belief due to something she was told - she isn't intentionally lying to defame someone - and therefore it isn't slander. Slander is making up stories when you don't believe they're true to hurt someone's reputation (usually professionally but it can also be to break up a marriage or something) or get back at them. This doesn't meet that definition.

And CPS doesn't want non-professionals investigating looking for proof. They want tips given to them and THEY want to look for proof.

My instinct would be to call the police because it's your belief that a law was broken. I don't know the protocol as to when to call CPS and when to call the police, though.
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#16 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 11:50 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Sierra View Post
No. Absolutely not the usual course of things. Actually, CPS wants any reasonable suspicion to be reported. *They* want to do the investigating. When other people go around hunting for proof, they "contaminate" the future investigation and often create great problems. Investigations must be conducted by the professionals. I can't emphasize that enough. Likewise, when other people ignore a problem because they don't "have proof," a potential abuser is allowed to continue abusing.
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And CPS doesn't want non-professionals investigating looking for proof. They want tips given to them and THEY want to look for proof..
Exactly. They'll tell you this themselves. And assure you that if there is abuse they will find it.

Weeks later, when everything is dropped, they'll tell you it's because there was no rock-solid proof. If they're anything in your state like they are in mine, they'll sternly remind you to have more proof before you call again.

I'm sorry, but even as they insist that fact-finding is their job and they don't want people muddling the potential case by searching for proof on their own, the bottom line is that without tangible evidence, your case will not get anywhere in this overloaded and undermanned system. Please don't think this means you should confront the abuser yourself or try to coerce statements from potential victims... but this might mean that someone more closely connected to the girls needs to find out for sure if there's been abuse before filing a report. As someone else pointed out, they aren't even going to investigate the abuse that happened to a woman who is now an adult, especially based on a letter that is being passed on second-hand.

I am telling you this from personal experience. I have heard them say what's quoted above. I've heard them dismiss me even with what I considered to be hard evidence. And it's not their fault - it's just the way the system works.

I am not saying don't call... if your gut tells you these girls are in danger then by all means, call. My suggestion would be to consider the police first, especially if the potential for abuse is immediate. However, please don't think CPS won't help you at all... sometimes, just the threat of being investigated will cause the abuser to remove himself from a situation of opportunity. (Maybe not this guy, though, if this has been going on as long as you suspect.) Bottom line is, no one really knows for sure... and maybe calling them is the answer.

It's up to you... and again, I really hope this works out in the best possible way.


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#17 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 12:49 PM
 
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It is probably different in different states, but in response to this:
Quote:
the school was grateful for the call, the counselor went ahead and got daily talks set up with the kids, and the school themselves also made an additional cps report as they are mandated to

it turned out that the kids got to chek in with their counselors even before cps came to their house

it's weird how it worked out, but as i understand it, cps gets school counselors involved immediately anyway and the counselors will call the kids in for a chat without notifying the parents
I am a school counselor. I am allowed to observe any child in the school, and do an initial (brief) interview. After that, I am not allowed regular sessions until I have signed consent from guardians. In most cases when there is suspected abuse in the home, I am denied consent. Often if a child is finally removed from their home, I will get consent from the social worker or foster parent after the fact. Before that point, I generally collaborate with the school nurse about suspected abuse/neglect and then turn the case over to her if I am denied consent (though I tend to be very persistent with guardians by calling them regularly to see if they've changed their minds.) I (or she) also contacts CPS, although many times they refuse to investigate based on our suspicians. I think think it is still helpful to have the complaints on record... it starts a paper trail.

All that just to say that calling the school counselor is a good idea, but there may be limits to what she/he can do at this point, other than observe and try to get permission to start counseling the child.

Editing to add that I work at the elementary level, and its all different at the high school level. There are social workers, etc. in the schools at the higher levels.
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#18 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 01:26 PM
 
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HOWEVER, this sicko is quite poor, living off ss and his wife's part time job -- so i'm not concerned about litigation when it comes to slander
I wouldn't let that give you any sense of security. Plenty of poor people have brought sucessful lawsuits without paying a dime upfront. All they need is an attorney who thinks it's likely to win and then he or she can get their payment.
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#19 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 03:56 PM
 
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just a word of caution....if you tell people or write people that this man is a pedophile with no legal proof that is slander and you can be sued.
I just wanted to clarify that the reason I addressed the issue of "slander" in my post is because of the above.

I've seen several misconceptions on this thread that I think at worse, are dangerous for children. There are ways to talk to school counselors about this that could be construed as slander, and ways that would not likely be construed that way. Either way, I think you have to report.

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#20 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 05:02 PM
 
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OP, I definitely think you should call CPS!

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Originally Posted by mamazee View Post
This is not an issue of slander. First, if she calls and says someone she knows said S. had molested her, that is 100% true and therefore is not slander. Second, even if she called him a pedophile, she is speaking from a point of her belief due to something she was told - she isn't intentionally lying to defame someone - and therefore it isn't slander. Slander is making up stories when you don't believe they're true to hurt someone's reputation (usually professionally but it can also be to break up a marriage or something) or get back at them. This doesn't meet that definition.
That's true. When a relative (who doesn't agree with our homeschooling) recently hotlined us, someone did suggest to me that we pursue litigation -- but it wasn't because she thought we could actually succeed in getting a conviction. I think the laws are very lenient in this area, because CPS doesn't want concerned people to avoid calling for fear of getting prosecuted.

The reason this other person suggested we pursue litigation, was so that we could find out "for sure" the name of the person who had made the report. Which I guess would be nice, since as it is we've just had to cut off contact with my entire extended family. We've had so much criticism from more than one family member, that we've no reason to believe it was anyone but one of them. And the caller gave information that makes it pretty clear to us who it was.

But, of course, there's that tiny smidgen of room for doubt. Which sometimes makes me feel guilty, when I dream about my 84yo mom in the middle of the night. But she's one of my most vocal critics, so I've reasoned to myself that, even if she wasn't connected with this call, she's still not a safe person to bring my family around, because she talks about us to lots of other people, and someone listening to her might feel a need to call sometime.

Kudos to you that you're going to be honest about making the call! I understand CPS's reasoning for protecting caller-anonymity -- however, as someone who was (wrongfully) called in, and who is now undoubtedly on some kind of record (even though they saw no need to open a case on us), I just wish the person who made the call had enough moral fiber to give her name -- just so we could know for sure.

There is just this feeling that, whenever someone's accused of a crime, we have a right to know the name of our accuser.

But, again, I commend you for taking action on this to protect those teenagers, and any other children who might have the misfortune to spend time with this man.

Susan -- married WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005), who started out unschooling and have now embarked on the public school adventure.
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#21 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 05:37 PM
 
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Are the children living with the abuser?

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds
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  11yo dd
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 9yo ds and 7yo ds
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and 2yo ds 
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#22 of 24 Old 12-02-2008, 05:52 PM
 
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Never doubt your instincts. Please call if you are concerned.
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#23 of 24 Old 12-03-2008, 01:08 PM
 
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Call the child advocacy center and they will handle the investigation. All you have to do is say I think so and so is being sexually abused. You don't have to give names of the offender.

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#24 of 24 Old 12-03-2008, 03:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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well, my instincts are that they have not necessarily been abused by him, but that it's highly possible it could have happened


now i'm more thinking a long the lines of just making a concerned citizens type report to the local police department where he lives.......i'll tell them how even thought it's past the statute of limitations for the cases we know of, i can't rest without doing something. at that time i will also give the names of my cousins, and tell the police i'd be happy to offer my input to cps......

i'm going to call my sherrif today and see what the protocol might be with something like this
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