John David Yoder was a licensed foster parent. He lived in a two-bedroom house with two adopted sons, a preteen boy for whom he was seeking guardianship, and a neighborhood teenager who had moved in after an argument with his parents. Someone called a child abuse hotline, reporting that a parent in Desert Hot Springs was molesting two boys. The caller said the man also kept pictures of boys posing in their underwear on his computer. To these social workers, these underwear pictures were concerning, but they were not concerning enough. Social workers classified the investigation as "inconclusive," then closed their inquiry, according to Riverside County court documents. Today, that same parent, John David Yoder, sits behind bars, a suspect in what officials have called one of the worst child pornography rings in Southern California in recent years. Yoder and three other suspects have been accused of victimizing as many as 15 children in Desert Hot Springs, including some of the boys that lived with him. Yoder was arrested in February as result of a separate investigation by law enforcement in Nevada. The charges he now faces are nearly identical to the allegations that were reported to the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services shortly before Christmas. If social workers had acted differently in December, the boys in Yoder's home could have been rescued six weeks earlier.
Attorney Shawn McMillan of California specializes in civil rights cases against child protection agencies. He has been awarded the "Street Fighter of the Year" award for defending family rights and taking on the abuses of social service agencies in California. Courthouse News Service is reporting that Attorney McMillan is representing a federal class action lawsuit against "Riverside County, Juvenile Dependency Investigator Karla Torres, Torres's supervisor Felicia M. Butler, and all similarly situated county social workers and investigators" for taking "a newborn baby from her mother without a reason or a warrant," and for making "a habit of it." The suit claims that the Southern California County takes "thousands of babies" without cause.