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MOTHER NOT NOTIFIED
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 28, 2012) — Approximately two weeks ago, The Post & Email began covering a story of a family’s struggle to reunite after the parents, who are Orthodox Jews, had their home invaded by police in Pasadena, CA and were subsequently jailed. After two and one-half months in jail, during which both parents became ill, all of the criminal charges against them were dropped by the judge.
At the time of the parents’ incarceration, the then-six children were dispersed to various foster homes within a 180-mile area in southern California, and the parents have been attempting to regain custody for the last 16 months.
Mrs. Henderson gave birth to her seventh child in July, but on August 31, a social worker and Los Angeles police barged into the home where she was enjoying unsupervised visitation with all of her children on a rare occasion and literally seized the infant from her arms as she was nursing, placing him in the care of a homosexual couple. It has been very difficult for Mrs. Henderson to see her infant, and in order to provide sustenance to him, she must take a two-hour trip each way to the social worker’s office.
The Post & Email has been told by Mrs. Henderson and eyewitnesses that their court hearings have been changed without notice and that they are often not notified that a hearing has been scheduled. Judge Marguerite Downing has reportedly ejected both parents from the courtroom for insisting on representing themselves.
We were also told by a close family friend that the one female child has been “molested” while in foster care, that the child’s social worker “admitted it,” and that the child nevertheless remains in the same foster home.
In an interview with Mrs. Henderson on September 11, 2012, we were told that one of the “charges” levied by the Los Angeles County Family Services agency against the parents is that the children are allowed to drink wine on the Sabbath, or “Shabbat.” Another allegation was that they were using an LP gas tank to heat their home because they were storing the tank in their garage.
The public affairs director at DCFS spoke with us on the record last week, and his interview is here.
A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, which was Yom Kippur, the day of atonement in the Jewish faith, but then did not appear on the court record and did not take place.
This morning The Post & Email sent the following message to Mr. Montiel to notify him of a recent troubling development in the case:
Sent:Fri 9/28/12 8:34 AM
To: Armand Montiel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subj: INJURY TO CHILD’S EYE IN FOSTER CARE
Good morning, Mr. Montiel. You may remember I was the reporter who interviewed you last week regarding foster care provided by your agency in Los Angeles County which your coworker read and acknowledged last Friday. I believe I presented a very fair view of your position by quoting you directly throughout the article.
Last evening, I received a very distressing message from Mrs. Henderson stating that one of her children was seriously injured in his foster home, necessitating stitches to his eye. I am not sure if the stitches were actually done on the eye itself or on an area surrounding the eye, but she was very upset that she was not notified about the injury. Rather, her husband found out when he went for his visitation with that child and one of the other children.
The seven children have been separated into various homes, and for some reason the parents must visit separately. The children went into foster care because the parents were jailed, and then all criminal charges were dropped against them. Since that time, 16 months has passed, and the children have remained in foster care despite the parents’ desire to have them home and no evidence that the children were ever abused.
There was supposed to be a hearing on Tuesday, Yom Kippur, during which the parents were fasting, but then their names didn’t show up on the court roster. This has happened before: they are scheduled for a hearing, they go to court, and then the hearing doesn’t take place. They don’t know when it will happen because they are not notified.
I am going to write to Judge Marguerite Downing about this matter. While I do not expect a response, perhaps it will raise awareness of her court’s irregular behavior. There are witnesses who are corroborating this information.
Additionally, a witness reported to me last weekend that Mrs. Henderson’s children were wearing shoes with holes in them during their last visit with her. The family friend bought the children new shoes, then one of the foster mothers called Mrs. Henderson and indignantly stated that the child hadn’t needed new shoes. This was the same foster mother taking care of the child who has had to have stitches to his eye. She called about the shoes but not about the serious injury to Mrs. Henderson’s child in her care.
What if that child has lost vision to the eye while he has been in foster care?
I have also learned that five, not two, of the seven children are in Spanish-only-speaking homes when their primary language is English. You had stated that that would be highly unusual, but that is the situation. I am told that the children are not allowed to practice their Jewish faith, as I mentioned to you last week, and they are also having their fingernails painted, which is against the parents’ religious beliefs. During monitored visitation, I am told that the monitor injects her own opinion into Mrs. Henderson’s parenting while it is neither neglectful nor abusive.
Since Mr. Browning will not take direct calls, I would appreciate your looking into this matter. As a reporter, I feel it is my responsibility to convey these concerns related to me by what appear to be credible eyewitnesses and the mother herself.
I acknowledge by this email that you are neither confirming nor denying that the Henderson family is receiving services from DCFS.
Thank you very much.
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
P.O. Box 195
Stafford Springs, CT 06076