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Woman charged with beating and scalding her 5-year-old adoptive son with Down syndrome

Date: 2014-09-26

By Charlene Adams

A Wisconsin mother of two allegedly beat her five-year-old son who has Down syndrome so badly that the boy defecated in his pants, she then made the boy sit in scalding hot bath water, authorities say.

Ruthann Gneiser, 31, told investigators that she was 'as angry as I've ever been.'

Medical Center of Aurora staff notified authorities after Gneiser brought the child in on Monday with 'heavy bruising' on his back and scald burns on more than 50 percent of his body, according to ABC 2.

The married, stay-at-home mom reportedly got angry with her adoptive son and began slapping him repeatedly on the back until he defecated in his pants.

ABC 2 reports that Gneiser made her son stand in a cold shower until he 'got himself cleaned up.'

She then made the boy sit in hot water for up to 1 1/2 minutes only noticing that the water was very hot when she reached in and nearly burned herself, Gneiser told authorities.

The child was transferred to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin where he underwent emergency surgery, according to ABC 2.

UPDATE-2: Mom accused of beating, scalding son with Down syndrome

Date: 2014-09-25

By Michelle Clemens

Manitowoc County - A Manitowoc boy who has Down syndrome suffered burns on over 50 percent of his body when he was placed in scalding water, according to a probable cause statement from Manitowoc County.
Ruthann Gneiser from the Town of Newton now faces felony charges.

Investigators were alerted around 5 o'clock Monday evening when hospital staff said they were treating a boy in the emergency room with burns and heavy bruising on his back. Authorities believe the injuries happened four hours earlier.

Law enforcement made contact with the boy's mother, who admitted to causing the injuries to her son, according to the probable cause statement.

"Obviously it's a very tragic situation when a young child like that gets abused," Sheriff Robert Hermann said.

The statement says Gneiser was angry with her son, so she slapped the boy repeatedly on the back with an open hand, at which point he defecated in his pants. She then pulled the boy into the bathroom and forced him to take a cold shower and sit in hot water while he cleaned himself and his underwear.

Hearing in abused child case postponed again

Date: 2014-09-16


The preliminary hearing for the parents of a 14-year-old Sedgwick County girl diagnosed by a doctor as a victim of child torture has been continued a fourth time.

The girl’s adoptive parents were scheduled to appear in Sedgwick County District Court on Tuesday, but the preliminary hearing in a criminal case against them has been postponed to Oct. 29.

The Wichita Eagle has been following the case since April as part of its “In Need of Care” series examining child abuse and neglect in the community. The Eagle is not naming the parents because doing so would identify the girl and her three adopted siblings, all of whom police placed in protective custody on March 28.

Prosecutors filed criminal charges against the parents June 6 after earlier filing a child-in-need-of-care petition on behalf of the four children.

The father faces three counts of child abuse, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated endangerment of a child, one count of criminal restraint and one count of criminal damage to property. The mother faces the same charges with the exception of criminal damage to property.

Sister Of Brutally Slain Nubia Barahona Sues DCF

Date: 2014-09-16

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The adoptive sister of Nubia Barahona, a young girl who died in the custody of her adoptive parents, has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Children and Families.

On Valentine’s Day 2011, police found the decomposing body of ten-year-old Nubia Barahona in the back of her adoptive father’s truck parked on the side of I-95 in West Palm Beach. In the front seat, they found her twin brother Victor suffering seizures from chemical burns.

The lawsuit alleges that Nubia Barahona’s now 11-year-old adoptive sister, referred to as “J.B.” in the complaint, is a “survivor of severe child abuse” and accuses DCF and its employees and agents of “negligence and wanton misconduct.”

Sheriff: Parents facing charges after "torture" of adopted child

Date: 2014-09-07

WBIR-Dandridge) Investigators in Jefferson County said they believe a 7-year-old boy was tortured by his adoptive parents.

According to Sheriff Bud McCoig, Charles Sealock, 57, and Suzan Sealock, 51, were charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect, and false imprisonment after the boy was found asking a nearby neighbor to trade a pine cone for food Saturday.

"Thank goodness the neighbors called and we were able to intervene," said McCoig. "Detective Taylor said this was the worst case of child abuse she has ever seen here."

The investigation, involving the Department of Children's Services, showed the boy was dirty and covered in cuts, bruises, and scars.

The boy at first told investigators he didn't have a home, then later said the Sealock's locked him a small bathroom for days at a time, and only gave him baby food to eat.

"This 7-year-old had been kept in a 3-by-4 room, small room, without any bedding. And there was actually a chest pushed up against the door so the boy couldn't escape from that room," said McCoig.

Kiana teacher arrested on Missouri child sex abuse charges

Date: 2014-09-05

A Missouri man who spent the past four years teaching throughout Western Alaska has been arrested on charges of sexually abusing his adopted daughter — and is alleged to have subjected his six other adopted children to “years of physical abuse and neglect.”


On Aug. 29, Alaska State Troopers arrested 42-year-old Owen M. Miller in Kiana, where he had been teaching language arts to middle and high school students in the community of more than 350 people just east of Kotzebue.



Miller faces an extraditable warrant from Missouri on five felony counts of child sex abuse, stemming from allegations from one of his adopted children and testimony from at least two more.


“We were contacted by the Missouri authorities,” said Kotzebue trooper Nathan Sheets. “They provided us a copy of his arrest warrant and said they had been told he was in Kiana working as a teacher.”


Eight in Adoption Abuse Case Agree to $17.5 Million Settlement With Foster Agencies

Date: 2014-08-27


Eight young adults with disabilities who were fraudulently adopted by a Queens woman and subjected to years of abuse have agreed to a $17.5 million settlement of their lawsuit against three private New York foster care agencies that had placed them with the woman, a new court filing shows.

The woman, Judith Leekin, 69, who adopted the children in the 1980s and ’90s, was arrested in 2007 in Florida, where she had moved with them. She was later convicted of fraud and abuse charges and is serving a lengthy prison sentence.

The case has long been seen as a horrific breakdown in the city’s foster care system. The authorities said Ms. Leekin used false names to adopt 11 children — one disappeared while in her care and is presumed dead — and she collected $1.68 million in subsidies from New York that were intended for their care but went to support her own lavish lifestyle.

Kansas uses more rigorous evidence standard for child abuse than other states

Date: 2014-08-23


Kansas is the only state in the country that requires clear and convincing evidence to substantiate an allegation of child abuse or neglect.

That standard could be putting children at risk, some in the child welfare field say.

When the Kansas Department for Children and Families substantiates abuse or neglect, it places the perpetrator on a registry that bans him or her from living, working or regularly volunteering in a child-care facility – including foster homes – regulated by the state Department of Health and Environment.

No other state requires such a high burden of proof, according to “Child Maltreatment 2012,” a study by the Administration for Children and Families, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A survey of states found that most use a preponderance of evidence, a less rigorous standard in which evidence shows it is more likely than not that abuse or neglect occurred.

'Top 15 most wanted' fugitive couple caught in Oregon

Date: 2014-08-14

Therese Apel,
The Clarion-Ledger

A couple wanted since 2008 on numerous charges tied to the death of their two-year-old adopted daughter have been arrested in Portland, Oregon.

Union County authorities have confirmed Janet and Ramon Barreto are in custody. According to the US Marshals, the Barretos were located in a shopping mall around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday. They had a child with them at the time of their arrest which is now in protective custody.

A tip on Monday lead authorities to their location, Marshals said. The couple refused to identify themselves, but a digital fingerprint system was used to identify Ramon Barreto. Janet Barreto was identified after being fingerprinted at the jail.

They were charged in 2008 with child neglect, child abuse, tampering with a witness, and manslaughter in the death of Enna Barreto, and the abuse of six other children. They were each wanted for failure to appear on original charges of manslaughter of a child, three counts of child abuse, six counts of child neglect and tampering with a witness.

Sheriff Jimmy Edwards says the U. S. Marshals Service located the couple in Portland, Oregon, on Tuesday.

Sonya custody case drags on as another birthday passes

Date: 2014-07-20

by Brian Haas

Five years of legal wrangling and blistering social media spats and this is what anyone has to show for it: Sonya McCaul, who celebrated her 10th birthday on Friday, is still technically in state custody.

The years-long battle for Sonya, a girl raised by foster parents in Dickson until a court earlier this year ordered her returned to her biological father in Omaha, Neb., has still not been fully settled. The Tennessee Department of Children's Services has legal custody of her while she stays with her biological father, John McCaul, in Omaha on a trial basis. The foster parents who raised her while McCaul was in federal prison, David and Kim Hodgin, continue to try to terminate his parental rights.

Despite all the attention paid to the case — which has tapped into the kind of raw emotions that often accompany custody cases, amplified by the uniqueness of the dilemma — they are running out of options.

More: Sonya's foster mother Haslam: Help my family

More: Dickson judge rules Sonya to stay in Nebraska

Biological mother of child found chained to shed wants him back

Date: 2014-07-07

By Lauren Squires

(WMC) - The mother of a child found chained up in a backyard shed says she wants her parental rights back.

It's a fight that came to a head last week when she saw her son being taken from his adoptive parents on WMC Action News 5.

Dionne Robinson had her parental rights terminated five years ago after she deserted her children in a drug-fueled haze.

"I had a drug problem back then and that caused them to take them," she said.

Now she wants a second chance at being a mom.

"It was very heart breaking for me. I just broke down in tears, because that's nothing a child should ever have to go through," said Robinson.

On July 3, Memphis police rushed the home of Melvin and Kenya Bloomingburg on Gaywinds Avenue after a young girl called 911 to report that her brother was chained up in the backyard shed.

Child found restrained in Memphis home

Date: 2014-07-04

(WMC) - On Thursday, Memphis police say they found a child chained up in a backyard shed.

Six children were removed from the home in the 5600 block of Gaywinds Avenue. The 8-year-old boy is at the center of the bizarre investigation.

It started when police received a call from a sibling that the child was chained up in the backyard shed, but physically, he wasn't hurt.

"Just to make me think about it, it's awful," said neighbor Elaine Evans. "You know, we speak like you speak to your neighbors, don't try to get in their business, but they seem pretty nice people, but you never know."

Several neighborhood children said the boy was chained up at least once before when they wanted him to play basketball with them.

"Then he was like ‘I can't, I'm chained up' and I said 'why you chained up?' And he said ‘ask my mama,'" said one neighborhood boy.

Police contacted the Department of Children's Services, whose investigators joined officers on the scene for much of the day. DCS is working to determine the relationship between the adults inside the house and the children.

Many questions remain after boy is found chained up at Memphis home

Date: 2014-07-04

by Katie Rufener

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Department of Child Services is trying to figure out who six children belong to after they were taken from a home where a boy was found in restraints.

All the children were removed from a house in the 5600 block of Gaywinds Avenue Thursday. Neighbors tell WREG that’s where a young boy was found chained up.

DCS said, according to their records, none of the children taken from the house are foster kids.

WREG tried talking to a man who claimed to be the own the house. He wouldn’t share his name, but the home’s owners are listed as Melvin and Kenya Bloomingburg. They have lived there since 2006. The man refused to talk to a WREG reporter about the children or the accusations.

DCS said the house was a foster home for the last two years, but the family stopped fostering in February. They said there were never any problems during that time.

However Thursday night, the house was swarming with police after hearing a child was being restrained in a shed behind it.

Couple says they kept son locked in garage to protect other children

Date: 2014-06-30

By Kris Betts, Tina Shively and Eleanor Beck

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas -- The couple accused of kidnapping their own adopted son said they had to keep him locked up to protect their other children and community.

The couple is out on bond after it was lowered to $70,000 on Friday.

Jenifer Thyssen, 40, and her husband, 39-year-old Dane 'Andy' Thyssen, are accused of locking up their 22-year-old adopted son, Koystya Thyssen, in a garage apartment by himself for at least four years.

Attorneys representing the couple say they kept their son locked up because he had sexually assaulted children, including a relative, in the past.

Attorney Rip Collins said, "He [Koystya] has a history of sexually abusing children, not only in other countries, but in this neighborhood, in this community. And their concern was, they had him restrained because of their concern that other people would be harmed."

Friends say the couple adopted Koystya from Kazakhstan in 2004, when he was 11 years old.

Reports of girl’s abuse deemed ‘unsubstantiated’ by DCF

Date: 2014-06-28


When someone reported that the adoptive mother of a 14-year-old Sedgwick County girl had hit her with a bat, the Kansas Department for Children and Families found there was not “clear and convincing” evidence that abuse had occurred.

Social workers investigated the October 2012 report and determined the family did not need services from the state agency whose motto is to “protect children, promote healthy families and encourage personal responsibility.”

Prosecutors, however, thought a crime had occurred.

On June 9, a week after The Eagle first wrote about the girl’s case, they filed charges against the couple who fostered and later adopted the girl.

The father faces three counts of child abuse, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated endangerment of a child, one count of criminal restraint and one count of criminal damage to property. The mother faces the same charges except for criminal damage to property. The alleged incident with the bat was the basis for one of the aggravated battery charges. The Eagle is not naming the parents because doing so would identify the girl.

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