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September 7, 2011 permalink
A Kentucky social worker is accused of falsifying records, though no specifics are available.
Ex-state social worker enters not-guilty plea to records falsification
LAWRENCEBURG, KY. — A former state social worker pleaded not guilty Tuesday to criminal charges that she falsified records in child abuse and neglect cases.
Margaret “Geri” Murphy, 60, entered the plea in Anderson Circuit Court. It was her first court appearance since Murphy’s Aug. 2 indictment on nine felony counts of tampering with public records related to cases she investigated between 2006 and 2010.
Murphy and her lawyer, Bill Patrick, declined to comment after her brief appearance before Anderson Circuit Judge Charles R. Hickman. The judge scheduled Murphy’s next court appearance for Nov. 22.
She resigned Jan. 3, according to her personnel records from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. She is living in Florida.
Attorney General Jack Conway said last month his office began investigating after a complaint from a citizen about how Murphy had handled a case involving her family.
Conway said a review of Murphy’s investigations uncovered multiple cases in which it appeared information had been falsified.
The charges provide no details of the nature of the false information or how it affected families that were subjects of child abuse and neglect information.
The charges each carry a potential penalty of one to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Source: Louisville Courier-Journal
Addendum: At the sentencing specifics are available. She falsely marked some cases as unsubstantiated. This continues the pattern that social workers are punished for failure to intervene, never for unnecessary intervention.
Former Social Worker Sentenced to Five Years in Prison
FRANKFORT, KY (7/24/12) - Attorney General Jack Conway and his Office of Special Prosecutions today announced the sentencing of a former social worker with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for falsifying child abuse and neglect reports. Anderson Circuit Judge Charles Hickman sentenced 61-year-old Margaret "Geri" Murphy to five years in prison following her guilty plea in May to nine felony counts of tampering with public records in connection with her role as a front-line worker investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect in Anderson County.
Prosecution of this case was handled by General Conway's Office of Special Prosecutions at the request of Laura Donnell, Commonwealth's Attorney for the 53rd Judicial Circuit representing Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties. The Attorney General's Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) began investigating the allegations against Murphy after receiving a complaint from a citizen who had Murphy assigned to a court case involving her family.
"Geri Murphy's actions were unconscionable," General Conway said. "Ms. Murphy had a responsibility to investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect and to take action to protect children from these heinous crimes. She failed to execute her duties and to protect Kentucky's youngest and most vulnerable citizens. The sentence handed down today sends a critical message that damaging the integrity of the Cabinet's system of support for child victims will not be tolerated."
Murphy's attorney requested that she receive probation. Because of the seriousness of the offenses and the fact that children's lives were at risk, General Conway's prosecutors opposed probation and recommended a sentence of five years on each count to run concurrently, for a total of five years in prison.
Reports of child abuse and neglect are assigned to a social worker to investigate and determine whether the abuse or neglect is substantiated or unsubstantiated. In all nine counts to which Murphy pled guilty, she documented that child abuse or neglect was unsubstantiated. Murphy admitted in her guilty plea that she falsified her reports concerning those investigations. In at least two of the cases where Murphy falsified reports finding that sexual abuse allegations were unsubstantiated, children were victimized again due to being left in abusive situations.
In one case involving a report of sexual abuse of an infant by the mother's boyfriend, new allegations of sexual abuse against the boyfriend were made after Murphy provided false facts and unsubstantiated the original report of abuse. Police expressed the belief that Murphy's inaction allowed the sexual abuse to continue.
In another case, Murphy documented that children had denied being abused in a foster home, when in fact they had given authorities details of the abuse. As a result of Murphy's falsification of the facts, the children remained in an abusive home until another complaint was filed and investigated by another social worker, which eventually led to the children being removed from the foster home.