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Foster Child Muzzled
August 11, 2014 permalink
Earlier fixcas reported on the Cook family in Texas. When their adopted son, infected with HIV before adoption, died, Texas child protectors seized their entire family. Recently son Justin Cook posted a video telling the story of his abuse in foster care. A Texas judge has ordered the family to remove the video. The original is gone, but here is a local copy (mp4) found by Breitbart.
Texas Judge Orders Removal of YouTube Video Exposing Abuse in Foster Care System
HOUSTON, Texas -- In a continuing cover-up by Child Protective Services (“CPS’) in Texas, Judge Keith Dean this week ordered the removal of a YouTube video produced by a 13-year-old boy that exposes the sexual and physical abuse that he and his brother endured while in CPS foster care. The video also reveals the 377-day nightmare suffered by him and his six siblings after they were ripped from their loving family and placed in four different foster care facilities out of county. The mother told Breitbart Texas “they are trying to rake this abuse under the rug.” Breitbart Texas has procured the YouTube video from a source outside the family.
The YouTube video shows the young teenage boy holding homemade signs that convey the story of what CPS caseworkers, and the CPS foster care system, has done to his family. One sign says “I was beatened [sic] and sexually assaulted on a day to day basis while my Social Worker did Nothing.” He holds another sign saying “My abuse goes uninvestigated.”
Breitbart Texas talked to the mother Angel Linthicum Cook in early July and reported about the atrocities suffered by this family. Cook and two of her sons had just testified at a Texas Sunset Advisory Commission hearing. The Commission was meeting to hear testimony about TDFPS (Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, “CPS”) abuses and other problems.
Legislators on the Commission were shocked by the Cooks’ testimony and promised to address the abuses by CPS and CPS caseworkers. Rep. Harold V. Dutton, Jr., said it was the worst thing he has heard or seen in state government during his 30 years as a State Representative. He said during the hearing that he had “never heard a story so bad, so egregious, that it just almost incites a rage in me. This is government at its worse.”
Cook and her sons testified again in late July but she says the CPS abuses remain uninvestigated. She told the Commission that she was testifying to expose illegal and unethical abuses by CPS caseworkers in withholding evidence, lying under oath, and falsifying documents.
There was a hearing this week in the CPS custody case. The judge assigned to the case, Judge Keith Dean of Dallas County, ordered Mrs. Cook to take down the YouTube video. He made her take it down while she was standing in the courtroom. Cook told Breitbart Texas that the CPS worker and the ad litem had angrily discussed the video while in the hallway but were very careful about was said on the court record. The Judge had signed an order whereby she could be held in contempt if she did not remove it. Breitbart Texas has obtained a copy of the Judge’s Order.
Mrs. Cook testified during the last hearing at the Texas Sunset Commission that her son was beaten, held down, and sexually abused while in foster care. Photos of her son’s injuries appear on her Facebook page. She also testified that her seven-year-old son cries when someone knocks on the door, and he and her four-year-old cry if she is out of their sight. They beg her not to take them to daycare. The Judge ordered the Cooks to put their two youngest children in daycare saying they had too many children to take care of.
The trouble with CPS started when their youngest son Buddy, died in March 2013 because he had HIV. The Cooks had adopted Buddy and his younger sister after their biological mother left the children with the Cooks. She was hiding from CPS from two different states. Photos on Mrs. Cook’s Facebook page show the scars, bruises, and cuts on the boy when he was left with them. It was the Cooks that notified CPS that the mother had left the children in their care.
The biological mother of the boy, Amanda Lunsford, was later found incompetent to stand trial for allowing eight men to sexually assault Buddy. Lunsford had also left her six-week-old daughter in the tent for three days. Lunsford has had three more children since she was found incompetent to stand trial.
CPS took the Cooks’ seven children on the same day that Buddy died. Mrs. Cook has told authorities, members of the Sunset Commission, Breitbart Texas, and others that the CPS caseworker lied and withheld evidence about Buddy’s HIV status and the biological mother’s CPS history from law enforcement and the Coroner. Mr. and Mrs. Cook were arrested for Injury to a Child by Omission. Although the charges were dropped in December of 2013, CPS kept the children for four more months. The agency still will not relinquish legal custody.
Under Texas law, CPS and the Judge have until October to terminate the Cooks’ parental rights or the case must be dismissed. Even though the children are back in the Cooks’ care after they have been exonerated from any wrongdoing, CPS still has legal custody of the children. CPS is expected to dismiss its case against the Cooks in October. The Cooks have spent over $140,000.00 defending themselves and protecting their family from CPS.
Jim Black, a CPS watchdog from Humble, Texas, said that “anytime a TDFPS employee fails to follow the guidelines, statutes, and rules set forth by the State, they are actually insubordinate to their employer, the people of Texas. When it comes to statutes, in many cases that insubordination results in down-right criminal behavior. Moreover, what we have is the fox guarding the henhouse. Texas needs another entity in charge of CPS internal investigations. Right now it is the Office of the Inspector General of the same agency.”
Lana Shadwick is a 22-year lawyer who has been a family court associate judge, CPS lawyer, and prosecutor. Follow her @LanaShadwick2
Addendum: On October 6, 2014 the family was freed from CPS. Criminal charges had been dismissed earlier.
Cleburne family freed of CPS supervision after 18 months
After 18 months and over $200,000 spent, the David and Angel Cook have their seven children back. Cook family freed from CPS supervision
CLEBURNE -- In less than five minutes, David and Angel Cook's 18-month nightmare with Child Protective Services was over.
On Monday, the agency formally relinquished guardianship over their seven children. CPS had removed their children for more than a year after accusing them of starving to death their four-year-old adopted son, Buddy.
"I don't understand how this is justice. But for us, for now it is because our kids are home," Angel Cook said.
The Cooks contend they were victimized by CPS caseworkers, who they accuse of withholding crucial medical information that led to a homicide ruling in Buddy's death, of misrepresenting what they and their children said during the investigation, and finally, of failing to protect their children while in foster care.
The Cooks' long nightmare began in March 2013 when Buddy died at their Cleburne home. The Cooks were charged with first injury to a child, a first degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. Their seven children – including then 14-month-old Wesley – were placed in foster care.
The Johnson County District Attorney's Office dropped the charges after the medical examiner who performed the autopsy came forward saying he believed that Buddy died of natural causes, not from something the Cooks did or did not do. The pathologist told News 8 that he believes Buddy had a metabolic issue that caused his body not to properly process nutrients.
The children returned home last April under a mediated agreement, but they remained under CPS supervision.
On Monday, CPS formally relinquished guardianship over David and Angel Cook's seven children. CPS had removed their children for more than a year after accusing them of starving to death their four-year-old adopted son, Buddy.
The family and all of its seven children came to the Johnson County court today for that final hearing. Friends and family came to show their support.
CPS officials had told the family that there was no need for a hearing but the Cooks wanted their day in court.
"The department has prepared an order to dismiss," said an attorney representing CPS. "All parties have signed off on it and here it is for your approval."
Judge Keith Dean took the order, signed and said that it was immediately effective.
"Good luck," the judge told the Cooks.
And with that, CPS was out of their lives.
The CPS attorney left out a side door and was not available for comment.
Patrick Barkman, an attorney representing the Cooks, says this is often how these cases end.
"These cases are always tough," he said. "Any time you have the kids removed from you, that's really rough on the family and it's especially rough here because the little boy had died and they didn't ever have any time to mourn him or go through the normal grieving process because they had to slip right into fighting a very serious criminal case and then this case as well."
The Cooks say the battle to stay out of jail and to keep their children has cost them more than $200,000.
"We're the same family [we were] 18 months ago, just one less person, and so for them to automatically say, 'Oh, you're a safe parent.' Why wasn't I 18 months ago?" Angel Cook said. "We lost everything."
She says that, had CPS officials just listened, unimaginable damage to their family could have been avoided.
David Cook said he's just "relieved" that the case was over.
The Cooks say several of their children were abused and neglected while in the foster care system and they are still fighting to have someone held accountable for that.
"My kids returned completely different kids and none of it can be given back," Angel Cook said. "My kids lost their innocence in state care."
They also plan to sue CPS and they want the case workers involved in their case to lose their jobs. They're also seeking an administrative hearing to overturn the CPS finding alleging that they were culpable in Buddy's death.
Barkman, their attorney, says he's been inspired by the Cooks' tenacity.
"I personally have been inspired by how tough these people are, how determined they are and how they held their family together," Barkman said.
Addendum: Shitty-Ass Kids
Kent Boxberger of Blogtalk tracked down the foster parent for the Cook children, Greg Green. In a phone call Green makes vile and repugnant comments about the Cook family. Boxberger put the program on YouTube. Here is an audio only copy (mp3).