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Client Gives Birth to Social Worker's Baby
August 28, 2009 permalink
From the Twilight Zone: When Milwaukee social worker Peter Nelsen was assigned to the case of mother Theola Nealy, she engaged in sexual relations with him to avoid losing her children. Later she gave birth to their baby girl. When social services took all three of Nealy's children, father Peter Nelsen got custody of their daughter.
Woman Says She Got Pregnant By Social Worker; He Has Child
State Representative Calls For Investigation
POSTED: 5:16 pm CDT August 28, 2009, UPDATED: 5:53 pm CDT August 28, 2009
MILWAUKEE -- A social worker who was supposed to be helping a Milwaukee woman got her pregnant instead, the woman said. Now, she's fighting to get her daughter back.
The baby's father was assigned to investigate a child neglect complaint about the woman's other children.
The agency said the social worker broke rules by having sex with a client and but then placed the child with him after they removed the baby from her mother's home.
"I missed her birthday. He had her," Theola Nealy said.
Nealy's daughter, Melina, turned 1 year old in the custody of her former child welfare worker, who is also the baby's father.
"He started coming over, and it evolved into sex, and I told him I did not want to have sex," Nealy said.
Nealy said she had sex with the social worker to make sure Child Protective Services would let her keep her kids. She said when she became pregnant, he told her to have an abortion. After she refused, Protective Services soon removed her kids from her home.
"He's paying me back for one not having an abortion, and two, he took her just to get me back because he knows that's what hurts me the most," Nealy said.
Professional rules forbid sexual relationships with current and formal clients. The Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare said the social worker no longer works there.
"Any serious violation of professional licensing rules or standards would preclude continued employment at the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare." according to the agency.
WISN 12 News found Melina in the arms of her father and the former social worker. Child welfare placed her with Peter Nelsen after they removed Nealy's children from her home.
"Well, certainly my relationship was inappropriate. I admit that. I'm sure," Nelsen said.
Nelsen is headed to court to fight for permanent custody of Melina.
"She's the love of our lives. She means everything to us," Nelsen said.
"Do you think it was a crime what you did?" WISN 12 News reporter Colleen Henry asked.
"State statutes I suppose would say so," Nelsen said.
"Do you think you're going to go to prison?" Henry asked.
"I would certainly hope not. It's been 11 months," Nelsen said.
The District Attorney's Office told 12 News it will not file criminal charges against Nelsen because the sex was consensual, and it's not a crime for a social worker to have sex with a client. That news devastated Nealy.
"He should go to jail," Nealy said.
The agency said it reported Nelsen to licensing regulators. It won't answer questions about why Melina and her brother and sister were removed from their mother's home, or given the circumstances, whether placement with her father is appropriate.
The case has prompted a request to Wisconsin's attorney general to investigate. Whitewater state Rep. Steve Nass said an impartial investigation is necessary.
Source: WISN Milwaukee
Addendum: Two years later the mother still does not have her children.
Mother impregnated by caseworker sues
Federal complaint names 2 state agencies, child's father as defendants
A child welfare worker who impregnated an emotionally troubled woman he had investigated for child abuse ordered the woman to get an abortion or she would lose everything, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court and an interview with the woman's attorney.
"He said, 'If I have to lose everything, then you have to lose everything too,'" the attorney, Joy Bertrand, quoted the woman as saying.
The woman - Theola Nealy - refused to have an abortion.
Within weeks, Nealy's two children - a daughter then 5 years old and a 3-year-old son - were taken into state custody. Years later, those children have not been returned.
And the baby fathered by the caseworker - now almost 3 years old - continues to live with her father, Peter J. Nelsen.
"Nelsen was assigned to protect the most vulnerable among us, and he preyed upon them," Bertrand said.
Nealy's story was brought to light by an article in the Journal Sentinel in August 2009.
"Everything that I love is gone," Nealy told the paper at the time.
Neither Nelsen nor Nealy could be reached on Monday.
According to the federal complaint, Nelsen was assigned by the state-run Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare to investigate an allegation of abuse involving Nealy's two children during the summer of 2007. Nelsen concluded the allegation could not be substantiated.
The bureau received another allegation later that summer. Although another bureau social worker initially was assigned to investigate, Nelsen told Nealy that he had taken over the case and that "he would handle it," the complaint says. Nelsen again concluded that the allegation could not be substantiated.
But after the abuse allegations had been resolved, the complaint says, Nelsen continued to visit Nealy's home. The visits became daily. The complaint quotes Nelsen telling Nealy, "I know everything about you," and "I've read your entire file."
Nelsen, a 12-year veteran of the bureau, told Nealy he had the power to arrest parents suspected of abuse or neglect, the complaint says.
Nelsen had sexual intercourse with Nealy three times during the fall of 2007, and Nealy became pregnant, the complaint says.
"Ms. Nealy was coerced into having sex with Nelsen, due to the control he had over her children's custody and placement," the complaint says.
Nealy discovered she was pregnant in November of that year.
According to the complaint, Nelsen demanded she get an abortion. The complaint quotes Nealy telling Nelsen, "I'm not going to kill my baby."
"Within weeks of Ms. Nealy refusing to abort her child," the complaint says, "Milwaukee police officers and BMCW social workers seized her two children."
In April 2008, before the child was born, Nealy told her Wisconsin Works caseworker that her "social worker" had impregnated her and gave the caseworker Nelsen's name, the complaint says.
Wisconsin Works provides financial support to parents with dependent children. Both Wisconsin Works and the bureau are administered by the state Department of Children and Families and, according to the complaint, the agencies share data and information.
Nonetheless, the complaint says, bureau caseworkers remained assigned to Nealy's case as it made its way through Children's Court.
The complaint alleges that bureau caseworkers "attempted to intimidate (Nealy) from complaining about Nelsen's conduct, by threatening to terminate her parental rights."
Once the child was born, the complaint says, Nelsen unilaterally decided to keep the girl.
"When Ms. Nealy begged Nelsen for the return of her child," the complaint says, "Nelsen replied, 'You don't need to have her,' and, 'You have to do what I say.'"
Nelsen resigned from the bureau in April 2009, about eight months after the infant was born.
A few days after the Journal Sentinel story ran that August, the complaint says, three bureau social workers went to Nealy's home.
"They demanded to know why she was causing trouble and demanded that she 'drop the case' against Nelsen," the complaint says.
The complaint seeks unspecified damages against Nelsen, the bureau and the DCF.
A statement emailed from a DCF spokeswoman Monday said the department had not yet received the lawsuit.
"The actions of Mr. Nelsen are completely unacceptable," the statement says.
The statement also says that "the Department immediately took action to terminate his employment when his inappropriate behavior was discovered."
But though the DCF was required to report Nelsen's behavior in a timely fashion to the state licensing board, a subsequent investigation by the Journal Sentinel found that it did not do so until after it was contacted by the paper.
Nelsen's social work license was at last revoked in September 2009.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel