Do DCFS Social Workers Have an Agenda in This Case?

BOTH PARENTS INVOLVED IN ALTERCATION; ONE GETS CUSTODY

by Sharon Rondeau

(Mar. 8, 2017) — Since reporting on the story of the Hendersons, whose eight children were ensconced in the foster system in 2011 and, to our knowledge, never returned to their parents despite no charges of neglect or abuse, The Post & Email has noted additional cases demonstrating that the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) employs some social workers who make decisions based on personal feelings about parents rather than any credible claim of child abuse.

Last fall, The Post & Email was approached by Roosevelt and Kanika Williams, who reported that they were never accused of abusing or neglecting their children and yet lost custody and visitation rights.  They said that like the Hendersons, they were often not notified of hearings regarding their three children and that counseling and other classes mandated by the Department and completed by both parents were later deemed inadequate.

The Williamses have further accused DCFS social workers of dishonesty, “perjury,” and of predetermining that their children would be adopted without due process afforded them.  As with the Hendersons, they reported that court-appointed attorneys are unhelpful, and even harmful, to parents attempting to secure the return of their children.  Both sets of parents were penalized for attempting to represent themselves.

A third case of which we have just become aware is that of  Michelle Robinson*, who had custody of her young daughter until she was 15 months old, at which time DCFS ordered her to bring the child in to their offices for surrender to her father following an altercation between the two adults.

Ms. Robinson’s saga began on December 10, 2015, when she filed for a restraining order against the father of her daughter after he reportedly beat her.  Ten days later, on her daughter’s first birthday, she agreed to bring her over to her father for a visit.  A physical altercation then ensued in which Robinson sustained a human bite and attempted to retaliate against Eric Crutchfield.  According to Robinson, during the altercation, the child was strapped into her car seat asleep.

Robinson did not leave the child with her father, but rather, left and went to report the injury to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  However, while attempting to file a report, she was informed that she was in the wrong jurisdiction and was redirected to the Los Angeles Police Department based on where the altercation had taken place.  When Robinson showed a deputy the bite she sustained, he advised her to go to the emergency room, which she did, after dropping off her young daughter with her eldest child, a young woman of 20.

Robinson was treated at Kaiser and released, after which she provided a report to the LAPD, which took photographs of the bite.

In the early hours of December 21, 2015, LAPD Officer J. Hillinger contacted DCFS with a “referral” based on Robinson’s report of the altercation and a California statute which states, “Upon a finding by the court that a party seeking custody of a child has perpetrated domestic violence against the other party seeking custody of the child or against the child or the child’s siblings within the previous five years, there is a rebuttable presumption that an award of sole or joint physical or legal custody of a child to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence is detrimental to the best interest of the child, pursuant to Section 3011. This presumption may only be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence.”

After a DCFS investigation into any endangerment which might have existed to the child, the case was closed on February 12, 2016.

Six days later, LAPD Detective Sean Horton notified DCFS that Robinson had violated a restraining order because of her visit to Crutchfield.   Robinson reported that on February 20, 2016, Horton “submitted a police report on behalf of Eric Crutchfield despite the fact that Crutchfield chose not to ’press charges’ on 12/20/2015. Horton had Crutchfield sign the report after the fact*.”

Robinson pointed out to us that per California Penal Code, Section 13710(b), “The terms and conditions of the protection order remain enforceable, notwithstanding the acts of the parties, and may be changed only by order of the court.” “This means that ‘protected persons’ are not in violation of protective orders when they acquiesce or invite the restrained party’s contact and should not be arrested,” Robinson said.

On February 24, 2016, Robinson was interviewed at DCFS, where she was told that Horton had presented “video evidence” against her.  On March 4, 2016, a warrant for the removal of her child was issued by DCFS “based wholly on statements made by Detective Horton,” Robinson said.

On March 10, Robinson received a call while at work from DCFS ordering her to bring her daughter to their offices based on the warrant, which had been approved by a judge.  Robinson cooperated with the order, although she was not shown the warrant, and later learned that her daughter had been placed with her father.

“I would have preferred, if she had to be taken, that she had been placed in a foster home rather than with her father,” Robinson told us.

On July 1, 2016, Robinson was arraigned on charges of “spousal abuse.” The case is still pending before Criminal Court in Los Angeles. Robinson was represented by trusted attorney and ally Renee Sanders until she exhausted her savings and is now relying on a public defender.

At a custody trial on July 27, 2016, Horton testified but, Robinson alleged, “perjured himself.”  Referee Steven R. Klaiff declared a mistrial, and a second trial was held in October refereed by Commissioner Steff Padilla.  Padilla and her husband, Alan Friedenthal, have adopted two children removed from their mother’s care in another DCFS dependency case.

On November 25, 2009, a civil complaint was filed against Padilla, Friedenthal and the Superior Court of the State of California, among other parties, by Laura Lynn, alleging violation of civil rights under 42 USC 1983.  According to court documents, Friedenthal and Padilla represented Lynn’s two children in the case “for just over one year.”  On page 8 of a document filed on June 24, 2011, plaintiff Lynn alleged:

Several California child-dependency cases are discussed on a blog, including Lynn’s and that of Rafaelina Duval v. County of Los Angeles Et Al.  On November 4, Duval, whose son was removed from her care at age 15 months without evidence of neglect or abuse, ultimately won a $3.1 million judgment against DCFS for the negligence of the social workers involved in the case.

Duval’s attorney, Shawn McMillan of San Diego, wrote of the decision, “This case encompasses extremely important issues for the people of Los Angeles, and the people of the State of California. Allegations of social worker misconduct of the type proven in this case are ubiquitous. Hopefully, the remaining 57 counties in California will take note of the outcome of this case and promulgate policies to prevent their social workers from engaging in this type of conduct in the future.”

In 2012, Friedenthal received a “severe admonishment” by the California Commission on Judicial Performance (CJP) for “committing misconduct and violating the California Code of Judicial Ethics in five family law cases over which he presided between June 2007 and January 2009.”

The first time she went to the Edelman Children’s Court in the hope of regaining custody of her daughter, Robinson was told by her court-appointed attorney, Ruben Lopezlopez of Los Angeles Dependency Attorney’s Inc (LADL, Inc.), “The court doesn’t trust you.” “I said, ‘The court doesn’t know me,’ Robinson related of the exchange.  “And he said, ‘Oh, no, no, no, the court doesn’t trust you.  In order for the court to trust you, you have to prove to the court that you can follow rules, and you have not been following the rules.  So you are not leaving with your baby today.'”

LADL’s mission statement reads:

Care, custody and control of a child are fundamental parental liberty interests. Courts must provide a parent with fundamentally fair proceedings wherein the parent has a fair and reasonable opportunity to retain or regain care, custody and control of his/her child.

It is our mission to assure that parents receive their substantive and procedural rights and that they are provided legal representation at low or no cost affording them a fair and reasonable opportunity to parent their child. Too many children are lost to the foster care system, and it is our goal to provide legal assistance to our clients to preserve the family and, in those instances where required, reunify the family through the use of innovative, effective, affirmative, and ethical legal principles and skills.

Robinson said she brought the photos of the bite marks from her altercation with Crutchfield, but when she offered them to her attorney, he said, “I don’t need those.”

“I went in to court, and it went very quickly.  I was a trained paralegal; I have a Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a Master’s degree, but it went so fast…I heard something about waiving my rights, and I shook my head, ‘No.’”

Following the hearing, Robinson was granted monitored visitation with her daughter three times weekly which she exercised during her lunch hour. She reported that she was penalized when arriving a few minutes late and that social workers maintained a “scorecard” of sorts of her movements, statements and actions. “I used family friends in August and September 2016 as monitors until they became exhausted with the scheduling. The court then ordered professional monitors at my expense, then later changed the order requiring DCFS to pay for professional monitors,” Robinson said.

In a related development, Robinson observed that “My monitors submitted to LiveScan in March 2016 at the onset of this matter. My adult daughter was also required to fingerprint, though no one in Crutchfield’s household was required to be fingerprinted.”

In screening each prospective DCFS monitor, Robinson said she has encountered conflicts of interest and questionable items, including one  DCFS-approved monitor whose name is associated with the adult entertainment industry.

As a result, Robinson has not seen her daughter since October 31, 2016.  She believes that social workers, Horton and the court commissioners are biased in favor of her child’s father and fears for her daughter’s safety.

In an unexpected development on Monday, Robinson was notified by her current LADL, Inc. attorney, L. Katherine Anderson, that Padilla announced she was recusing herself from the case. “Ms. Anderson has not provided any reason for the recusal to date,” Robinson told The Post & Email prior to press time.

—————-

*The mother’s name has been changed to protect the privacy of her children.

 

10 Responses to "Do DCFS Social Workers Have an Agenda in This Case?"

  1. A   Wednesday, September 4, 2019 at 12:31 PM

    This is so sad. This Mother obviously loves and cares for her child. This is NOT right. Give her child back!!!!

  2. J.hawks   Saturday, July 27, 2019 at 9:04 PM

    I am going through the most ridiculous sham of a case ever in history I think. I mean that. My wife and have been fighting an eviction where 2 very powerful attorneys and a judge in San Bernardino county colluded together to ruin our chances and help my former landlord. The judge we belive has something to do with our DCFS case because our appeal we have been working on for 1.5 years just happened to be exactly when this court hearings started and we were unable to fight the corrupt appellate division of San Bernardino county and had to give up. DCFS CSW came to our home and talked to us about our daughter who was told was roaming the neighborhood by my home and their was 6 calls from a random person. She never was roaming she would go my next door neighbors home and play with their dog every morning in their front yard. And pick a Lemon with the other next door neighbors every day around noon. She was reported to being 5 blocks away and police had to Bri g her home on 8 occasions said the CSW. The logs from the police officers were only 2 times and she was never more than 1 house away. Our next door neighbors are husband and wife detectives and their son who also lives their just started at the sheriffs. The CSW after telling us she found everything checked good and she left smiling after talking with my wife. 1 week later we were arriving home from lunch and our home was swarmed by 6 police cars and this worker. She walked and said “I’m here to take the children” I said what??? Why? ? She stated because we missed the court date yesterday. I said court date why would we have a court date? She said because she filed a petition for neglect. We said what why? She said she just needed us to bring the children out. I said over my dead body. She had no paperwork no order no removal order nothing to give us. I said to the cops she will not be taking my 9,6,and 1 yr old son who was still breastfeeding, she has nothing signed by a judge nothing with our names on it no documents what so ever and your going to agree with this? If you do I will be filing many lawsuits. He went and talked to her and came back and said, the kids will stay and you gave a hearing on Friday. We said ok and they left. That Friday we went just my wife and I and the kids were very sick with colds. Coughs and runny noses. Anyways we arrived and checked in at about 11;45 and talked to appointed attorneys around 12:45. While this was happening the CSW was at my fathers house again trying to take my kids. She had put in her report which we hadn’t seen yet that when we arrived at the courts the courts I formed her that the kids were not present and she was ordered to go get the kids. But she had stated this at 10:30 and we hadn’t arrived to the courts till 11;20 so they’re was no way she would have known we didn’t have the kids for we had t even arrived yet. Lies. Then she reported in the detention report that I was ordered by the judge to call the CSW and my father and give Consent to take the kids and I she stated I already called her on my cell from the courts. My father told her that I don’t even have a cell phone at the moment and that I couldn’t have called her. She was stuck and made up that oh yeah he used the court phone I forgot. She then left and came back a third time and brought police again. Making this the 4th time she tried to take my kids with lies and with out a removal order or a warrant . Nothing was ever given to us or police officers for the 4 times she brought the police with her. Cop cars each time without a order signed by a judge. The police officers the 4th time threatened my 80 yr old father with arrest if he didn’t give the kids up. He was worried and gave them up. The CSW told him not to worry she would give a address and phone number of the already known Foster Family and it was also in a whole different country where they were going. My 1yr Old my 6 and 9 yr olds all who have never once been away form us for a night were taken with out us being their and my 1yr old was still breast feeding and all were sick, and my daughter with certain allergies were stolen with out asking us anything about their allergies or other issues. My son told us when they left the home the 2 CSW worker immediately started giving them spelling quizzes and asked if they knew this or that. With them still distraught over being gripped away form their grandfather and my 1 yr old screaming in the car next to them were given a spelling bee. I was livid and still am. The entire reports lies and the interviews she said she had with neighbors all lies. Never even talked to the neighbors just used their names and wrote her own reports. She changed police Officers interviews and never once had a removal order or warrant and was denied several times. When she got the kids in the car my father said ok can you give me the address and phone number now? She said oh I forgot it and ran to her car and literally peeled out in the car with kids in it. We still do t know where or why she took the to a different county to a already pre authorized foster home. Anyone’s help with this would help

  3. Josie   Sunday, December 17, 2017 at 11:57 PM

    Wow ! I can’t brlieve what I have read ?! Am I in the United States America ?
    How ? DCFS IS OUT OF CONTROL TO THIS DAY ! Maybe we should do this to their families ?

  4. Carol   Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 3:41 PM

    DCFS is supposed to have the children’s best interest, protection, and a safe environment. This appears to be null and void. Ms. Robinson is a graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from a prominent, prestige college. Ms. Robinson has raised two lawbiding, education achieving young ladies. The home is clean, beautiful, child friendly,safe, drug, alcohol, and cigarette free. What make the system think negative of the capability of the mother raising her younger child? The first three years of a childs life is the most important for development. Separation anxiety, social, physical,and emotional cognitive skills can be hindered due to the mom being deprived of visitation rights. How is that benefiting the child? That’s why there’s so many problems with our youth.
    The father is an admitted drug user,abuser, fightng and biting ms. Robinson in her face which is noted by the police and medical facilities. Why is the child in his custody? Is he being abusive to the child? Why is ms. Robinson the to suffer when he is known for doing illegal things?With his history, his job status is questionable. What was done about his part of the altercations that were brought against the two of them? It appears that over the years DCFS and other entities have fallen by the wayside. The criteria should be re evaluated. It appears some may not be as qualified for the position as they should be. With the mom continuing to achieve custody of her child might intimidate the system and show them that she may the more qualified, and determined than they anticipated. If you weigh the criteria of the mother on one side and the father on the other, the mom would win in the child’s favor hands down.With people leaving the case instead of following it through, toes may be getting stepped on and closets may have more bones hidden than they want known.
    Through the difficult position you’ve encountered, tears,grief,pain,stress,and being able to continue employment, taking care of yourself and children shows you are strong. Keep striving to get your daughter.

  5. Babi   Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 12:27 AM

    I’ve followed this story for sometime as I am a colleague of someone who knows Ms. Robinson. I am in shock everytime I hear something new. Give this lady her baby back. Poor mother and even worse for the Child.

  6. Yovanna   Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 6:54 PM

    Too many instances where DCFS social workers are not doing their jobs. Families are being torn apart and DCFS doesn’t care. There are TOO MANY cases where DCFS social workers are dishonest and do not do their due diligence to protect children. Child custody was given to the parent that physically abused the other? How is that a safe environment for the child??? An investigation needs to be done to make sure that all these high paid officials in DCFS are held accountable for the grief and pain that they cause families.

  7. In Favor of the Baby   Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 5:46 PM

    I also am personally acquainted with the mother in this case and feel that this is an outrage on behalf of the system. In no form, shape, or fashion has she ever neglected or endangered her children. To award a man custody of a child, although the father already had an existing restraining order requested by the mother, speaks volumes to the judge, attorneys, and all parties involved as to their judgement and character. As mentioned in the article, this is a hardworking, college educated woman who has already raised successful, responsible children. Her intentions are solely based on the best interests of her children, thus allowing her father to see his daughter in the aforementioned article. Punishing her by removing the child from her custody was not in the child’s best interests. A child’s most developmental and formative age is the first two to three years of their life. A daughter’s bond with their mother is the most sacred and important one of her life. Not one person took this into consideration in making decisions about granting the father sole custody. This case should be reopened and reviewed by a court with morals and common sense. What happened between the parents involved has nothing to do with the mother being more than capable of raising her daughter in a safe and loving environment. The father was never punished or even cited for his wrongdoings in the matter. Instead he was given the responsibility to care for a baby girl that he disrespected when he disrespected her mother by physically assaulting her. What kind of a world do we live in? Does anyone with an ounce of power have an ounce of heart?

  8. Rochelle   Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 5:38 PM

    It’s a travesty that this mother seeking protection for herself and her children, through the justice system, has been mentally tortured and abused by a system that is suppose to protect her and her children.

  9. L.C.   Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 5:18 PM

    Great article, shame on DCFS

  10. Mom's Ally   Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 3:24 PM

    I have been aware of this case from the start. The inter-agency corruption in this matter is almost “unbelievable” but for actually knowing the heartbroken Mother. DCFS social workers are criminals, the attorneys collude with DCFS, and Edelman Children’s Court should be called Edelman Corruption Court.
    What kind of people abruptly take a child from her loving and beautiful home with her mother and siblings and place her with a guy who is an admitted drug addict, abuser, batterer and has NEVER held a full time job or been self-sufficient in his life.

    This is a tragic cautionary tale of lying with dogs and catching fleas.

    Poor Mom!

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