Child abuse charges filed after Detroit boy found in basement

The father and stepmother of a Detroit boy who was found after being reported missinglast year were charged with torture and child abuse Friday, according to prosecutors.

Charles Bothuell IV and his wife, Monique Dillard-Bothuwell, allegedly physically abused the child, forced him to live in the basement, deprived him of food and made him engage in an extreme exercise regime, according to the Wayne County prosecutor’s office.

The boy, then 12, was discovered June 25 in the basement of his father’s home behind a barricade after numerous searches of the home in the days following his June 14 disappearance. He was very thin, with marks on his upper body when he was found.

Charles Bothuell IV told authorities his son ran away after being scolded for not exercising or doing his chores. He learned his son was found during a taped interview with HLN’s Nancy Grace when he said he had no idea the boy was in the basement.

via Child abuse charges filed after Detroit boy found in basement | KFOR.com.

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Nursery to remain closed after failing to report bruises of child abused by family member

A struggling nursery that was closed down by Ofsted after a worker failed to tell social services about bruises noticed on a child has lost its fight to re-open.

Catherine’s Cross Nursery, in Darlaston, shut last year and was struck off the register by the education watchdog for a string of safeguarding failings.

The management was said to be poor and ineffectual, while inadequate learning and development opportunities were being offered to children at the Pinfold Street centre.

Nursery operators Darlaston Community Association took the matter to an appeal heard at a First-Tier Tribunal earlier this month. But the original decision to close was upheld.

The hearing was told concerns were raised about the failure of a worker to report to social services bruises she had noticed on a child.

The abused toddler was ultimately taken into care after suffering a serious assault by a family member.
Ofsted said the concerns were sufficient to justify removing the nursery from the register and, after an appeal, a judge has now backed that decision.

Judge Melanie Plimmer told the tribunal that, if anything, the concerns raised then were even more valid now than they were last year.

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Claire Semmens jailed over Aaron Hughes toddler rape

A babysitter has been jailed for 16 years for giving a three-year-old boy to a known paedophile who drugged and raped him.

Claire Semmens, 28, of Cardiff, handed the boy to Aaron Hughes, who was jailed for life for sex attacks on the toddler.

She admitted causing a child to engage in sexual activity and possessing indecent images at Cardiff Crown Court.

 

via BBC News – Claire Semmens jailed over Aaron Hughes toddler rape.

Search warrant: Springfield child abuse case says 3-year-old girl was starving, hurt, kept in cage

Starving and sick, covered in cuts and bruises, her hair thinning — the 3-year-old girl, according to doctors, could have died.
Interviews documented by police also allege the Springfield girl had been tied to a chair and thrown down stairs by her mother’s boyfriend. She was at times allegedly kept in a part of the house the other children called the “hole,” locked in a cage.
Her mom, according to documents, sometimes went to “the hole” to sneak her spinach and watermelon.
The allegations in the documents were used to OK a police search of a home at 1521 W. Florida St., Springfield, and are filed in Greene County Circuit Court.

But an attorney for the couple says the allegations aren’t true.
Kyle Wyatt, who represents Dustin Richard and Kaylah Hill, said he will argue during an upcoming child welfare hearing through the state Children’s Division that there was no abuse.
Child welfare authorities have been involved in the case for some time, but only after the 3-year-old’s maternal grandmother took her to the hospital in December did police begin to investigate.
No one has been criminally charged in this case, but welfare authorities have removed six children from the home. And, as the investigation nears its end, police say they plan to submit probable cause to prosecutors to push for criminal charges, possibly within a week.
Documents from a search warrant say Richard and Hill already had 15 open cases and an “extensive history” with the Children’s Division before the 3-year-old’s condition resulted in police being called to a Springfield emergency room. Documents say doctors diagnosed her with the conditions described above along with cellulitis and a disease called Kwashiorkor, caused by malnutrition.
Defending the couple in an interview with the News-Leader, attorney Wyatt said doctors never diagnosed the girl with Kwashiorkor, and that test results showed the girl was in the 75th percentile for weight. He said the cellulitis is not a sign of abuse.
It was the cellulitis that had the highest likelihood of causing death, doctors said, had it spread from her feet to her abdomen.
According to the documents, police were called to Mercy hospital on Dec. 26 when the girl arrived in the emergency room. An investigator described her as “scared and withdrawn.”
The girl was taken to the intensive care unit where she stayed until New Year’s Eve. She was placed in the state’s custody upon leaving the hospital.
The girl allegedly told investigators her mother’s boyfriend had tied her to a chair and thrown her down the stairs. According to documents, she said a mark on her forehead was from her mother hurting her.
She also, according to documents, described Richard tying her to a board.
The grandmother, Adele Hill, told police, according to documents, that the girl told her about Richard pushing her down the stairs in a chair. The girl had been “eating non-stop” since she’d been at the grandmother’s house the day before, the grandmother said.
Attempts by the News-Leader to reach Adele Hill failed.
Investigators got more information in later interviews from other children who had been with the girl in the Florida Street home. The allegations included:
• Richard hits the girl and hurts her.
• The girl and another child don’t get food “all the time” and not at all when they “get in trouble.”
• Hill sometimes gives the children food but they can’t tell Richard.
• Richard puts the girl in a cage in a place called “the hole,” and “she cries all night while she is in the cage.”
• The girl’s hair fell out when she brushed it.
Asked about the allegations of a “cage,” Wyatt said police searched the home and found no cage.
“They aren’t running a kennel for children,” he said.
Before the girl arrived at the hospital, police had not started an investigation but officials from the Children’s Division had already been trying to find out more about the parenting of Richard and Hill. Child welfare workers had interviewed a 7-year-old boy, who is legally blind and who lived in the home.
Search warrant documents say suspicions arose in November when school officials told the Children’s Division the boy would eat “three or four breakfasts and lunch at school” because he said he didn’t get food at his mother’s house.
He said he had stayed up late the night before to write sentences — why is not clear in documents — and that the boyfriend had “put a sock in his mouth because he was crying,” police say.
In December, he told officials he didn’t get food one weekend and that he only eats at school. He said Richard had hit him in the testicles with a cane, according to documents.
In January, the 7-year-old allegedly told investigators that his mother and Richard told him “to tell lies” when questioned at the Child Advocacy Center, where children are often interviewed during Springfield child abuse investigations.
Documents show at least four different Children’s Division investigators working on cases with the family since November.
When police interviewed Hill and Richard in January, they allegedly described illnesses the girl had been diagnosed with months before she was taken to the hospital, but said they didn’t know how she had injured her feet, why there were bruises on her throat, or why she was malnourished.
Richard allegedly told police the cellulitis may have been caused by the impetigo the girl was diagnosed with, but a doctor later told police that was not possible. Impetigo is a skin infection often caused by a sore or rash that is scratched repeatedly.
According to documents, the couple said the back injuries were from a time she fell while camping. The bruises on her forehead and lips were from a fall down the stairs. A burn on her ear was from “falling into a hot turkey fryer on Thanksgiving.”
Police say Richard denied tying the girl to a chair and pushing her down the stairs.
Wyatt said Richard and Hill have been cooperative through the process and voluntarily met with a police investigator.
Police served a search warrant at the couple’s home Feb. 4 in order to take photos for evidence. The search warrant affidavit says police were specifically looking for “items used in disciplining and corporal punishment” such as “weapons, cages and restraints.”
Police did take photos, according to the search warrant return, but the document does not specify what is captured in the photos or how many were taken.
Documents say the 3-year-old was put in the state’s custody following her release from the hospital. Five other children in the home were later removed and taken into the state’s custody, according to Perry Epperly, chief juvenile officer in Greene County.
Wyatt said his clients will be seeking to have the children returned during the upcoming Children’s Division hearing, Feb. 19.
It’s unclear if the 3-year-old has had a birthday since being taken to the hospital, as she is sometimes referred to as being 4.
The document lists eight children who were living in the home, between the ages of less than a year and 10 years old. Wyatt said two of those children are not full-time residents of the home, so they were not taken into custody with the other six.

Child abuse resulting in death

A list of articles whose child subject has either been killed through abuse or whose subject has been involved in child abuse resulting in death.

The following 50 pages are in this category, out of 50 total. This list may not reflect recent changes

A

B

C

D

E

F

F cont.

G

I

J

K

L

M

N

N cont.

O

P

R

S

T

W

Keanu Williams murder: Opportunities missed to save two-year-old

There were “a number of significant missed opportunities” to save a two-year-old boy from being beaten to death by his mother, a report has found. Rebecca Shuttleworth is serving a life sentence for murdering Keanu Williams.

The toddler was found with 37 injuries including a fractured skull and torn abdomen, in Ward End, Birmingham. A serious case review said social care workers, the police and health professionals had “collectively failed to prevent Keanu’s death”.

‘Confused’ agencies Former director of social services, Professor Ray Jones said corners were cut

Shuttleworth, 25, was spoken to in prison by members of the serious case review team, telling them she was “surprised” social workers allowed her to keep custody of Keanu.

The report states: “She expressed some surprise that Keanu had not been removed from her care when born.

“As Rebecca Shuttleworth is intending to appeal her sentence, although it is unclear if that is possible, she was not able to talk more about services which might have prevented Keanu’s death.”

The report found different agencies had “become confused” as their strategy discussions had focused on the medical and forensic aspect of his injuries, the report said.

It concluded that although Keanu’s death on 9 January 2011 could not have been predicted, the agencies involved could have seen that he was “likely to suffer significant harm”.

The toddler should have been subject to a child protection plan “on at least two occasions” to address issues of neglect and physical harm, the report said.

‘Double-figure sackings’

Jane Held, from the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board, said Keanu died because there were “failings across every agency”.

Jane Held said “radical change” is needed to protect children

“No-one walked in his shoes, staff were distracted by his mother’s needs and by taking what she had told them at face value,” she said.

Ms Held said there had been “double-figure sackings” since Keanu’s death, but added: “It is unfortunately an appalling situation.

“We are unequivocally sorry about the fact that unacceptable failures in 2011 and from the start of Keanu’s life meant that we did not prevent his death and we failed to protect him, and that is something that I think all the board feel incredibly distressed about.”

Shuttleworth, of Cottingham Road, Manchester, was convicted of murder and four counts of child cruelty after a five-month trial. She was ordered to serve at least 18 years.

Injuries to Keanu’s head

Computer-generated image showing four injuries to Keanu's head

Keanu was born in Torbay, Devon, and the report also found Torbay’s Children’s Services should have been aware of the risks even before his birth.

It states: “There was enough information available to raise concerns that the unborn child was likely to be at risk of suffering significant harm.”

The authority also later received two anonymous reports of concerns about Rebecca Shuttleworth’s care of Keanu which should have led to a reassessment of his safety.

It concluded: “If a child protection plan had been in place, there would have been more robust arrangements to safeguard and promote Keanu’s interests.”

Torbay Council’s director of children’s services, Richard Williams, said: “This is an extremely sad case and I would like to reassure everyone that we take the recommendations in this review very seriously and have acted upon them all.”

The serious case review makes eight recommendations:

  • Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board (BSCB) should review child protection to focus on the “child journey”, and “key facts” should be readily available to front-line staff.
  • Agencies should review the access that staff have to records.
  • BSCB should ensure records are sent to relevant people and filed properly.
  • There should be a “critical review” of child protection medical assessments and support procedures.
  • BSCB must track and review the process of any changes.
  • Procedures for “whistle-blowing and challenging” to be reviewed by all agencies involved in the case.
  • New training programmes for staff.
  • There should be a management review to provide evidence that action has been taken.

‘Invisible’ Keanu

The report was told there has been an “end-to-end” review of the child protection system since Keanu’s death, as it became clear there had been poor performance and a general lack of compliance with child protection procedures.

Rebecca Shuttleworth Rebecca Shuttleworth was found guilty of murdering Keanu

In a comment that echoes those made after the death of starved four-year-old Daniel Pelka, the report says that Keanu had become “invisible”.

The serious case review into the death of Keanu Williams is the twenty-third to be published in Birmingham since the Local Safeguarding Board’s inception in 2006.

Peter Hay, from Birmingham City Council said admitted that its track record over recent years was “poor” and said the council was “unequivocally sorry”.

“Keanu’s death is another tragic reminder of the consequences of failing children’s services,” he said.

Edward Timpson, the government minister for children and families, said he has issued the council with a “final warning”.

“There is no quick fix, however I have been very clear with Birmingham that unless I see rapid improvement further action will follow,” he added.

‘Seen and not heard’

Ofsted will return to Birmingham in autumn to determine what progress has been made, the minister said.

The National Children’s Bureau said it was “particularly worrying” that the review found that no conversations were held with Keanu to find out what he was feeling.

Dr Hilary Emery, from the children’s charity, said no child at risk should ever be “only seen and not heard”.

Continue reading the main story

“Familiar failings” identified in the report

  • “Professional over optimism”
  • A lack of “professional curiosity” in questioning information
  • A lack of confidence among professionals in challenging parents and other professionals
  • Poor communication between and within agencies.
  • A lack of analysis of information
  • Shortcomings in recording systems

“We urgently need to review how best to support children within the child protection system – especially the very young ones – to ensure their voices are listened to at every opportunity,” he said.

West Midlands Police said their officers need to “challenge social workers and doctors” in future.

Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe said: “Of course it’s a collective failure and we paid a key role in that.

“Ultimate accountability rests with Keanu’s mother who was convicted of his murder – let’s not forget that.”

Fay Baillie, director of nursing for NHS England in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country said: “I don’t think children in Birmingham will ever be completely safe.

“We are always going to have deceptive mothers and families, however we can aim to make it as safe as possible by working together and improving education.”

Helping an abused or neglected child

What should you do if you suspect that a child has been abused? How do you approach him or her? Or what if a child comes to you? It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed and confused in this situation. Child abuse is a difficult subject that can be hard to accept and even harder to talk about.

Just remember, you can make a tremendous difference in the life of an abused child, especially if you take steps to stop the abuse early. When talking with an abused child, the best thing you can provide is calm reassurance and unconditional support. Let your actions speak for you if you’re having trouble finding the words. Remember that talking about the abuse may be very difficult for the child. It’s your job to reassure the child and provide whatever help you can.

Tips for talking to an abused child

  • Avoid denial and remain calm. A common reaction to news as unpleasant and shocking as child abuse is denial. However, if you display denial to a child, or show shock or disgust at what they are saying, the child may be afraid to continue and will shut down. As hard as it may be, remain as calm and reassuring as you can.
  • Don’t interrogate. Let the child explain to you in his or her own words what happened, but don’t interrogate the child or ask leading questions. This may confuse and fluster the child and make it harder for them to continue their story.
  • Reassure the child that they did nothing wrong. It takes a lot for a child to come forward about abuse. Reassure him or her that you take what is said seriously, and that it is not the child’s fault.
  • Safety comes first. If you feel that your safety or the safety of the child would be threatened if you try to intervene, leave it to the professionals. You may be able to provide more support later after the initial professional intervention.

Daniel Pelka: call for debate on mandatory reporting of child abuse

Pressure is growing for a national debate on mandatory reporting of child abuse after a damning report exposed how teachers, health professionals, social workers and police officers failed Daniel Pelka, the four-year-old tortured, starved and beaten to death by his mother and stepfather.

A serious case review published on Tuesday said the boy appeared to be invisible to the many professionals who had contact with him but did not step in. The review team could find no record of any conversation with Daniel about his home life, his feelings or his relationships with his mother and her male partners.

The report found that a vast number of professionals had contact with Daniel and his family but nobody put together the full picture of the abuse the boy was suffering at home in Coventry, where he was kept locked in a filthy box-room, denied food and subjected to physical torture.

All the agencies involved have accepted they should have done better and have explained measures they are taking to try to stop another youngster slipping through the net.

The Coventry Safeguarding Children Board, which commissioned and published the serious case review, said it would monitor the agencies involved in Daniel’s case to ensure they were taking note of recommendations.

Amy Weir, the chair of the board, said she believed there should be a debate on the pros and cons of mandatory reporting under which those responsible for the care of children should be obliged to pass on concerns about abuse to the police or other authorities.

David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, backed the call for a debate. “Today’s report lays down a challenge to social services, the police, schools, health professionals and the wider community to review, and where necessary improve, the way we identify and deal with the heinous crimes of neglect and abuse,” he said.

Mandatory reporting might be one element of driving change, Simmonds said, but he added: “We have to be sure that any reform does not have unintended consequences, such as overloading the system with cases where the child is clearly not in danger of abuse or neglect. We must avoid creating a situation where the social care system is swamped with unnecessary referrals because professionals lack the courage or confidence to take responsibility, exercise their judgment and act appropriately.”

Paula Barrow, a mother of two from Manchester who is heading a petition for mandatory reporting and has collected 53,000 signatures in support, said: “Child abuse is a crime, yet reporting it in the UK is discretionary. We urgently need new legislation which requires the mandatory reporting of child abuse in regulated activities, to help better protect vulnerable children like Daniel Pelka.”

Peter Garsden, president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers and adviser to the campaign group Innocence in Danger, said: “The introduction of legislation would remove many of the confusing and often conflicting considerations that staff presently have to make before they say anything to anyone about concerns they may hold.”

Innocence in Danger is a member of the Mandate Now Coalition. Fay Maxted, the chief executive of another of the coalition members, The Survivors Trust, said: “Spotting the signs of child abuse can be challenging, and all too often reports that should be made are not because of misplaced loyalty to the institution or friendship with the alleged perpetrator. If law is introduced, staff will have no doubt what to do, and they would have legal protection from recrimination which presently can follow when a member of staff takes the conscientious step of reporting.” The coalition says mandatory reporting works well in many countries, including the US.

Daniel’s mother, Magdelena Luczak, 27, and her partner, Mariusz Krezolek, 34, both Polish nationals, will serve at least 30 years in prison for Daniel’s murder. During a harrowing trial the jury heard that Daniel looked like a concentration camp victim when he died in March 2012. The court was told that he was subjected to torture, including having his head held under water until he passed out and being force-fed salt. He was systematically denied food before dying after receiving a blow to his head.

The report said Daniel’s “traumatic abusive experiences” during the last six months of his life were shocking. “He must have felt utterly alone and worthless for much of that time, being the subject of his mother and stepfather’s anger and rejection. At times he was treated as inhuman, and the level of helplessness he must have felt in such a terrifying environment would have been overwhelming. The extent of his abuse, however, went undiscovered and unknown to professionals at the time.”

The review team accused Daniel’s school of having a dysfunctional approach to children’s safeguarding issues, highlighting that teachers had noticed injuries to his face and had locked away pupils’ lunch boxes to stop him stealing food, but had not taken effective action to help him.

Health professionals and social workers had been too quick to accept that injuries needing hospital treatment, including a broken arm and a cut over the eye, were the result of accidents – though it also said they were under pressure because of high workloads and understaffing. The report criticised a community paediatrician who saw Daniel a month before he was murdered for putting his weight loss down to worms rather than possible abuse.

It emerged in the report that police attended Daniel’s “chaotic” household almost 30 times in response to reports of domestic abuse in the six years before his death and it suggested officers could have done more to make sure he was being treated well. “In many respects the response by the police was not child-centred,” the report said.

Apologising for its failings, Coventry city council’s chief executive, Martin Reeves, said: “All organisations in Coventry involved in Daniel’s short life now have to face up to their responsibilities and the part they played in the missed opportunities that could have protected Daniel. We are sorry we did not do enough to protect Daniel.

“The report makes clear that the sharing of information and communications between all agencies was not robust enough and no one fitted together the jigsaw of what was really happening to Daniel.”

Reeves said the council had already improved working practices and training for its social workers and staff in schools.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Forsyth, of West Midlands police, said the force had improved its safeguarding children processes and information-sharing with partner agencies and accepted there needed to be “a more holistic approach when dealing with multiple incidents involving domestic abuse, in particular where children reside”.

Dr Sharon Binyon, medical director at the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, said training had been reviewed and new systems were in place.

The children and families minister Edward Timpson has written to the safeguarding board asking for further analysis of why the failures happened.

“The fact that, according to the report, there is no record of any conversation held with him by any professional about his home life, his experiences outside of school, his wishes and feelings, and of his relationships with his mother and her male partners speaks volumes,” Timpson said.

Daniel Pelka: Professionals failed ‘invisible’ murdered boy, report says

Review accuses school of poor safeguarding system and says social workers accepted parental version of eventsImageFour-year-old Daniel Pelka’s voice was never heard throughout his ordeal, the review said. Photograph: West Midlands Police/PA

Teachers, health professionals, social workers and police officers treated four-year-old Daniel Pelka as if he was invisible, failing to prevent his mother and stepfather from murdering him after a campaign of torture and starvation, an independent report has found.

A serious case review published on Tuesday could find no record of any conversation professionals had with Daniel about his home life, his feelings or his relationships with his mother and her male partners.

Daniel’s first language was Polish and the report suggested that this could have been a problem. It said: “Of particular note was that without English as his first language and because of his lack of confidence Daniel’s voice was not heard throughout this case.”

At times, the review concluded, Daniel appeared to have been “invisible” against the backdrop of his mother’s controlling behaviour. Professionals failed to act on “what they saw in front of them” but accepted parental versions of events.

The report said Daniel’s “traumatic abusive experiences” during the last six months of his life were “shocking”, adding: “He must have felt utterly alone and worthless for much of that time, being the subject of his mother and stepfather’s anger and rejection. At times he was treated as inhuman, and the level of helplessness he must have felt in such a terrifying environment would have been overwhelming. The extent of his abuse, however, went undiscovered and unknown to professionals at the time.”

Daniel’s mother, Magdelena Luczak, 27, and her partner, Mariusz Krezolek, 34, both Polish nationals, will serve at least 30 years in prison for Daniel’s murder. During a harrowing trial a jury heard that Daniel looked like a concentration camp victim when he died in March 2012. The court was told that he was subjected to torture including having his head held under water until he passed out and being force-fed salt. He was kept locked in a filthy box room at home in Coventry and was systematically denied food before dying after receiving a blow to his head.

The review team also accused Daniel’s school of having a “dysfunctional” approach to children‘s safeguarding issues, highlighting that teachers had noticed injuries to his face and had locked away pupils’ lunch boxes to stop him stealing food, but had not taken effective action to help him. Health professionals and social workers had been too quick to accept that injuries needing hospital treatment including a broken arm and a cut over the eye were the result of accidents – though it also said they were under pressure because of high workloads and understaffing. The report criticised a community paediatrician who saw Daniel a month before he was murdered for putting his weight loss down to worms rather than possible child abuse.

In addition it emerged in the report that police attended Daniel’s “chaotic” household almost 30 times in response to reports of domestic abuse in the six years before his death and it suggested officers could have done more to make sure he was being well treated. “In many respects the response by the police was not child-centred,” the report said.

On Daniel’s school, Little Heath primary, the report said staff did not pass on concerns to police or council child protection officials when the boy came to school with bruises and other marks on him. The school did not appear to link the injuries to his obvious hunger. “The system within the school to respond to safeguarding concerns was therefore dysfunctional at this time,” the report concluded.

The author of the serious case review report, Ron Lock, said: “If professionals had used more inquiring minds and been more focused in their intentions to address concerns, it’s likely that Daniel would have been better protected from the people who killed him.”Peter Wanless, chief executive officer of the NSPCC, said: “Too often people failed to look at Daniel like they would their own child.” Maggie Atkinson, the Children’s Commissioner for England said: “Far too many opportunities to intervene to stop the abuse Daniel experienced during his short life were missed by those around him who had a duty to protect him.”