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Foster Mom Convicted

June 19, 2007 permalink

Legal action following the death of Isaac Lethbridge has proceeded to the conviction of his foster mother. Earlier stories: Aug 18, Aug 23, Sept 2, Sept 20 (all 2006) and March 31, 2007.

When a ship sinks, does the captain take responsibility, or does he blame a deck-hand? In the current case, the foster mom, with no discretionary control over the child beyond routine food and shelter, has been convicted. Others with even less authority may be prosecuted next. The social worker who had real authority and responsibility for Isaac has remained out of the picture. She is not named in the press reports, and will not come forward to accept responsibility for the death of her ward.



Foster mother guilty in Isaac's death

Adams-Rogers jailed before sentencing

Charlsie Adams-Rogers
(MARY SCHROEDER/Detroit Free Press)

Charlsie Adams-Rogers listens Monday in a Detroit courtroom as a jury finds her guilty of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse in the death of 2-year-old Isaac Lethbridge in August.

Saying she questioned the character of a former Detroit foster mother and her family, a Wayne County judge jailed the woman moments after a jury convicted her Monday of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse in the death of a 2-year-old boy in her home in August.

The jury of nine women and three men took a little more than two hours to convict Charlsie Adams-Rogers, 60, on charges related to the Aug. 16 beating death of Isaac Lethbridge, who had been placed in Rogers' foster home six weeks earlier. Adams-Rogers, also known as Paris Rogers, was acquitted of a misdemeanor child abuse charge involving Isaac's 4-year-old sister.

In sending Adams-Rogers to jail pending sentencing July 2, Judge Vera Massey Jones said the woman and her family showed they could not be trusted and that she might not return to court to be sentenced.

Last week, Jones barred Adams-Rogers' family from the courthouse after complaints from the jury two days in a row that her family members were intimidating them.

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey said Adams-Rogers' family has obstructed the search for truth in Isaac's killing. Because Adams-Rogers is not believed to have inflicted any of Isaac's injuries, Lindsey said, charges may be brought against others in Adams-Rogers' home that day, including a now 13-year-old emotionally disturbed girl suspected of abusing Isaac and his sister.

"There's a lot we still don't know about exactly what happened in the house," Lindsey said after the verdicts were reached about 3:36 p.m. "Who else was culpable, we're still looking into. But, obviously, we don't have the cooperation of the people who were there."

Lindsey said she and Detroit police Sgt. Constance Slappey had spoken to neighbors who were afraid to testify about what was going on in Adams-Rogers' home. According to testimony, after a neighbor called Child Protective Services about how the foster children were being treated, Adams-Rogers wrote a letter to neighbors telling them to mind their own business and had her adopted daughter deliver it.

"Now that the conviction has been had, perhaps those people would feel more comfortable about giving more information about exactly what they know," Lindsey said. She urged witnesses to call Slappey at 313-596-2266 anytime.

Adams-Rogers could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison on the involuntary manslaughter charge and up to four years on the second-degree child abuse charge.

A Free Press examination of the case after Isaac's death showed that the Lula Belle Stewart Center of Detroit had placed him and his sister in three troubled foster homes in 11 months.

None of the homes appeared to be suitable, according to records obtained by the Free Press. There also were irregularities in how Adams-Rogers was assessed for her foster care license and a string of nine complaints about her that failed to raise alarms.

Isaac's father, Matthew Lethbridge of Canton, said he was happy with the verdicts.

"I hope they don't stop here. There are many people who are responsible, who could have protected Isaac from the fate that he received," he said.

Adams-Rogers, whose testimony last week was seen by several observers as disingenuous, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read. After the judge sent her to jail, she calmly handed her purse to a woman who had been with her and was led away by sheriff's deputies.

Her attorney, Warren Harris, had no comment about the verdicts but said his client "handled it very well, I think."

"Naturally," Harris said, "she doesn't feel good. It hurts."

A family member said Adams-Rogers is likely to appeal her convictions.

In a written statement, family members said a key witness lied, the judge was biased, and the verdict by a jury with only two African-American jurors was unjust.

Isaac and his sister entered Michigan's foster care system in September 2005 after being found by Westland police in a filthy home rented by their parents, Matthew and Jennifer Lethbridge. The Lethbridges had previously lost permanent custody of six other kids in Washtenaw County because of environmental and medical neglect.

On June 29, 2006, Isaac and his sister were removed from one foster home because the sister may have been sexually abused and their Lula Belle foster care worker, Karl Troy, placed them in Adams-Rogers' home on Greenlawn in northwest Detroit.

The Lula Belle agency apparently did not consider the risk of placing such young children in a crowded home with an emotionally disturbed girl who needed medications to control her behavior.

According to his autopsy, Isaac had brain hemorrhaging, a broken right collarbone, many bruises and abrasions and second-degree burns on his torso.

"The last days of his life were a living hell," assistant prosecutor Lindsey told the jury. Then, motioning to Adams-Rogers, Lindsey said, "and that is directly her responsibility."

Source: Detroit Free Press