The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a grandmother was freed from prison this month after Loyola Law School's Project for the Innocent became involved. Maria Mendez spent the last 11 years of her life, serving a 25-year sentence for the death of her 9-month-old grandson. She had been convicted of Shaken Baby Syndrome, but attorneys and law students who fight for people who are wrongfully convicted took up her case, pointing out medical evidence that was not considered by the court. Mendez was originally convicted based on the testimony of a Child Abuse Specialist. Dr. Carol Berkowitz is the Director of the Child Abuse Fellowship at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. At one time she served as the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is part of the Helfer Society – an elite group of doctors involved with Child Abuse, and in 2014, she won the society's highest award. Despite her many accolades, Dr. Berkowitz failed to consider alternative explanations for the injuries sustained by the grandson of Ms. Mendez. The testimony that she gave reflects the junk science beliefs involved in Shaken Baby Syndrome. Other doctors disagree with her diagnosis, but she was the only doctor to testify 11 years ago.
Los Angeles Father Loses Daughter to Corrupt Court – Thousands Petition to Remove Rocky Crabb from the Bench
Thousands of people in Los Angeles have petitioned to have Commissioner Rocky Crabb removed from the bench in Family Court in Pomona, California. Commissioner Crabb first came to the attention of Health Impact News because California father Joshua James approached us with his story of fighting to protect his 3 year old daughter, Journey. His story suggests that there is much wrong in Commissioner Crabb's courtroom. Parents like Joshua are left wondering how justice can be served, when there appear to be so many abuses of power and signs of corruption when facing Commissioner Crabb. Joshua has hired attorneys who say they cannot go up against Crabb and have given him his money back. Joshua has tried to get Crabb to recuse himself after making prejudiced comments. Attorneys have told Joshua that his civil rights are being denied and that this commissioner has it in for him. Unless Crabb steps down, they tell him that he will not have a chance of getting custody back. Joshua has not seen his daughter for almost a year now.
Medical Director of LA Child Welfare Testifies Under Oath That He Does Not Know the Law Regarding Seizure of Children
Dr. Charles Sophy is the Medical Director for Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Los Angeles County DCFS reportedly has the largest amount of children taken away from their families and put into foster homes of any other agency in the United States. When California attorney Shawn McMillan uploaded a video of a deposition of Dr. Charles Sophy, the Medical Director for Los Angeles County DCFS, whom he deposed in a case he is currently litigating to his YouTube account, I took special interest to listen to the video and learn more about this medical director who is responsible for the lives of so many children in LA County. In addition to his role as Medical Director for Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Dr. Sophy also maintains a private practice as a Hollywood doctor and has appeared in reality TV shows such as "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." In this video deposition, however, it would appear that Dr. Sophy is not well versed in the Constitutional laws regarding when a child can be taken out of their home and away from their parents, and he states that he has never supplied such training to his social workers.
Tammi Stefano of the National Safe Child Show interviewed Melinda Murphy regarding the abuses of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services. Melinda Murphy has worked in Child Welfare for over 20 years. She has a master's degree in counseling and educational psychology. She is co-author of the book A Culture of Fear: An Inside Look at Los Angeles County’s Department of Children & Family Services. She worked for DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) in LA County for 10 years in various capacities, including: social worker, supervisor, investigator, and court officer. She was known for handling tough cases that other social workers could not handle, and when she left the agency, she left on good terms. So why did she leave after working there for nearly 10 years? "Because I had a conscience. I wanted to be able to sleep at night. I wanted to be able to look at myself in the mirror. When I went to work for them, I thought I'd be working for the children, I'd be working for the families, building on their strengths. I discovered no, what I am doing is I am working for the Department of Children and Family Services. I am a PR agent. I'm not protecting the children and the families. I am protecting the Department of Children and Family Services. And I couldn't live with that."
Not being informed of court hearings. Falsified drug tests. Threats and accusations to intimidate and coerce. Social workers, her state representative and even the attorney assigned to her case ignoring emails, not returning calls. Her daughter ripped from a happy home and placed in a non-English speaking foster home without critical, life-saving medications. A system that seems to have already decided her family’s fate, without even the most cursory attempt at justice. Mayan Hewes describes these events and wonders what happened to her rights, and the rights of her six-year-old daughter Layla, in L.A. County, California.
California is one of the few states in the U.S. that has passed legislation to try and pierce through the cloak of secrecy surrounding Child Protection Social Service agencies. In 2008 California passed Senate Bill 39, which gave the public a chance to review how well — or poorly — child protective services did its job prior to a child’s death while in foster care. Columnist Lois Henry of The Bakersfield Californian reported how "the State Department of Social Services planned to sneak a measure into a budget trailer bill that would have increased secrecy regarding the deaths of children who die of abuse or neglect" while in the care of CPS. Lois Henry does a good job explaining how CPS is all about hiding their practices and protecting themselves, instead of protecting children.
KPCC reported this week that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will pay $800,000 to the parents of two children taken from their home by a Sheriff’s deputy and social workers with the Department of Children and Family Services, who did not obtain a warrant first. According to KPCC, the lawsuit states that the complaint used by DCFS centered around what the homeschooled family chose to feed their children, and for failing to vaccinate them: Social workers with the Department of Children and Family Services claimed the parents “created a detrimental and endangering home environment” for the children by failing to provide nourishing food and immunizations. The lawsuit describes the deputy mocking the parents for not immunizing their children based on religious beliefs and homeschooling them. It accuses him of coercing the parents into a search of their hotel room. “You could lose your kids forever,” he allegedly threatened.
They are California's most powerless children: abused, neglected, deeply traumatized. In this investigative report "Drugging Our Kids," we present a documentary video that gives voice to many of these young people, who say they were silenced during their youth by the powerful drugs. We have found a system that has become dependent on quick-fix profit-driven pharmaceuticals to control troubled children.
Kim Baldonado of NBC news in Los Angeles reported this week that several foster care kids have come out into the open to testify about abuses allegedly committed in California's foster care program. In a press conference, former foster care children who are now young adults testified to horrendous abuses including: being tortured by "specially-made tools," and being "abused verbally, physically and sexually."