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DHS Admits Mistake

March 2, 2012 permalink

Oregon DHS is admitting a mistake. It is the kind of mistake they love to admit. They failed to take Jeanette Maples away from her family, and her mother killed her. Oregon is handing out $1.5 million of taxpayer funds to atone for its error. Just so everybody will know. Of course, if they had more money and power, they could take more kids, and fewer children would die at the hands of their parents.

But what about the other kind of mistake, when they take a child and the child dies in foster care? That kind remains secret. Even when a legislature enacts a law requiring full disclosure in cases of dead foster children, the bureaucrats defy the law to maintain secrecy. So all the mistakes you hear about in the press will support the same policy: more money and power for child protectors. In case you think calling CPS actions "defiance" is an exaggeration, here are stories about defiance of disclosure laws in five American states: New York, Kentucky: [1] [2], California: [1] [2] [3] [4], Arizona and Nevada.



Abuse death costs state

Oregon agrees to pay $1.5 million to the estate of Jeanette Maples, who died at the hands of her mother

Oregon will pay $1.5 million to the estate of murdered Eugene teenager Jeanette Maples, settling a lawsuit alleging that negligence by state child protection workers led to her starvation, torture and beating death at the hands of her mother.

The state essentially agreed to pay the full $1,507,000 sought in the August 2011 wrongful death suit filed by Portland attorney David Paul, according to a settlement document filed this week in Lane County Circuit Court.

Under Oregon law, $1.5 million is the legal limit on claims against public agencies. But the state also agreed to absorb $7,000 it already paid for Jeanette’s burial and related expenses, Paul said Wednesday. The suit included a claim for that amount in anticipation that the burial expenses would be charged to the estate, he said.

Probate records show that Paul will receive $500,000 in attorney’s fees and the rest of the settlement will be paid to Jeanette’s biological father, California resident Anthony Maples. Maples is the dead teen’s only qualified heir under Oregon law. He did not immediately respond to a Wednesday interview request.

Jeanette’s step-grandmother, who contacted child protection workers in 2009 to express concern about the girl’s safety, declined comment on the settlement Wednesday.

Lynn McAnulty previously expressed dismay at the prospect of Anthony Maples benefiting financially from his daughter’s death, given his lack of involvement in her life. The Leaburg woman said any settlement should go to Jeanette’s step-siblings, a boy and girl now in state foster care placements. Absent a will, however, siblings are not heirs under Oregon law.

The deal was officially struck with a Portland lawyer serving as personal representative of Jeanette’s estate. Attorney Erin Olson was appointed to that role after Lane County Circuit Judge Lauren Holland denied Anthony Maples’ bid to be the estate’s personal representative.

According to his unsuccessful 2010 petition, Anthony Maples had nine drug possession convictions — at least five involving methamphetamine — between 1990 and 2008. He also declared in the sworn statement that he had been clean and sober since more than a year before Jeanette’s death in December 2009.

Anthony Maples told The Register-Guard soon after Jeanette’s murder that he had been out of touch with his daughter for nearly a decade.

Paul arranged grief counseling and “a host of other medical, psychological and social services” for Anthony Maples, the probate records show.

The lawsuit targeted Oregon’s Department of Human Services, which is responsible for investigating reports of child abuse and neglect. It accused the agency of failing to reasonably respond to multiple reports over four years that Jeanette was being abused. It called the state’s inaction “a substantial factor” in her violent death at age 15.

Jeanette’s mother, Angela McAnulty, was sentenced to death by lethal injection after pleading guilty in February 2011 to the aggravated murder of her daughter. She remains on Oregon’s death row even though Gov. John Kitzhaber has announced that there will be no executions during his tenure.

The dead teen’s stepfather, Richard McAnulty, is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to murder by abuse. He denied inflicting harm, but admitted failing to protect Jeanette from her mother or to report her injuries and starvation to authorities.

The wrongful death suit alleged that state workers failed to “investigate and heed” allegations of abuse from reliable sources. It also accused the agency of failing to consider Angela McAnulty’s documented history of child abuse in California before moving to Oregon. And it faulted the agency for underestimating Jeanette’s vulnerability to abuse, saying workers wrongfully concluded that she “could fend for herself as a young teenager.”

Department of Human Services spokesman Gene Evans declined comment on the settlement Wednesday. He pointed instead to an agency report on policy changes in response to its internal investigation of its response to reports of suspected abuse in the Maples case.

The changes included more careful evaluations of the vulnerability of older children; more supervisor involvement in decisions about responding to reports of suspected abuse; and paying greater attention to reports involving children, such as Jeanette, who are isolated from outside scrutiny because they do not attend school.

The payment is not the department’s largest to settle a lawsuit alleging negligent failure to protect an Oregon child from abuse. In 2009, the agency agreed to pay $2 million into a fund for future care of twins who were allegedly abused by their foster parents.

The Jeanette Maples wrongful death claim sought $1 million in noneconomic damages for Anthony Maples’ loss of his daughter’s “society, love and companionship.” It also sought $500,000 in noneconomic damages for her suffering of “severe hunger, starvation, anemia, dehydration, alienation of affection, distress and a lack of the enjoyment of her short life” due to the state’s failure to protect her from her mother.

In a declaration urging court approval of the settlement, Paul said he has handled 40 to 50 claims against Oregon and Washington child protective service agencies on behalf of injured children.

In a statement Wednesday, Paul said “there is no way to bring back Jeanette Maples. Her memory will be cherished. However, a hard look at the practices and failings at DHS can open new pathways to a better social network and community. This is the kind of case that can make Oregon a safer place for all of our children in the future.”

Source: Register-Guard, Eugene Oregon