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Most recent articles added to the case archives

Justin Harris pulls down Merry Christmas legislation

Date: 2015-03-05

Rep. Justin Harris presented today his bill to allow school districts to erect Nativity scenes and refer to Christmas as Christmas if they choose and display Christian symbols. In the face of opposition, he pulled the bill down.

The bill was written cagily:

It says districts "may educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations and allow students and school districts to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations …"

I'm not aware of any rule that currently prohibits anyone from saying Merry Christmas.

The bill also says religious symbols maybe used as long as more than one religion is included in a display or a secular image is also included.

In short: Have a Nativity  scene, but it's OK if you stick Santa Claus in it.

Harris has another bill about the kinds of messages students can express on T-shirts and elsewhere. 

Harris emphasized that his bill was permissive, not a requirement. He said districts are hypersensitive to concerns about religion in public schools.

Governor expands on interest in adoption issues

Date: 2015-03-05

By Max Brantley

Gov. Asa Hutchinson elaborated today on a statement yesterday responding to the Arkansas Times reporting about the adoption of children by Rep. Justin Harris, his "rehoming" of them with another family and the subsequent rape of one child at the new home.

The governor's statement:

“I have previously instructed the Department of Human Services to review the practice of ‘rehoming’ and recommend changes with the best interest of the child foremost in mind. In addition, I have met with Rep. Greg Leding and Rep. David Meeks to discuss their legislation and additional ideas to reform our adoption procedures so that our children have the greatest opportunity for a safe, loving and secure home.

“There are legitimate concerns brought forth by the recent story in the media. And the public policy issues pertaining to it should be addressed as soon as possible. Our children deserve nothing less than our full attention and utmost care.”

Ohio couple arrested after 2 adopted girls crash van escaping from alleged beatings, sex abuse

Date: 2015-03-04

JEFFERSON, Ohio -- A husband and wife accused of making three of their adopted children virtual prisoners inside their home pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a case that began after prosecutors say two girls crashed the family van while trying to make their escape.

The 58-year-old adopted father is charged with sexually abusing the two girls, now ages 17 and 14. He and his 64-year-old wife are both charged with kidnapping, felonious assault and endangering children in Ashtabula County, east of Cleveland.

The Associated Press is not naming the suspects to avoid identifying the girls. County Prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci said the couple also abused and neglected an adopted son, now 21, who is mentally disabled.

Iarocci said Wednesday that the couple "repeatedly and harshly" beat the girls and older son with a paddle that eventually became stained with blood. The three victims were given little to eat and were malnourished, Iarocci said.

He called living conditions inside the home "deplorable."

Mother cleared of child abuse charges

Date: 2015-03-03

By Matthew Glowicki

A Jeffersontown mother was found not guilty Monday on charges she abused her 5-year-old special needs son.

Rachel Tipton, 29, was acquitted on two charges of first and second degree criminal abuse. A Jefferson Circuit Court jury of eight women and four men deliberated for just over four hours Monday evening before announcing the not guilty charges. Judge Olu Stevens declared a mistrial on a lesser charge of criminal abuse after the jury announced they were unable to come to a unanimous decision.

Tipton and her pediatrician husband adopted the boy from Ethiopia when he was 11 months old.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Erin McKenzie tried to convince the jury that Tipton, a homemaker, hit the boy on his genitals with a wooden spoon, cut the inside of his mouth when force feeding him and was responsible for head injuries the boy sustained in 2013.

Defense attorney David Lambertus attacked the very basis of the abuse claims, calling into question the work of a "very busy, swamped, overwhelmed" social worker whose report served as a basis for the commonwealth's medical expert who opined the child had been abused.

Couple charged with abuse

Date: 2015-02-27

An Ashtabula County couple accused of locking away three of their adopted children and subjecting them to physical was arrested Thursday.

An Ashtabula County Grand Jury secretly indicted David and Rejeana Moss on Wednesday on nine felony counts, with David Moss facing an additional five counts related to sexual misconduct with the two female minors.

Authorities say the abuse took place during a two-year period between Sept. 1, 2011 and Sept. 12, 2013 at the family’s Dorset Township home. The three victims, two female children and an adult male who is mentally challenged, were adopted by David and Rejeana Moss about 11 years ago.

The children were home-schooled most of the time and had not been allowed to socialize outside of the home for several years, Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nick Iarocci said. They told investigators the girls, who shared a room, and the male were locked in their separate bedrooms at the residence “virtually all-day, every day.”

Jorge Barahona trial set in case tied to murder of daughter Nubia

Date: 2015-02-27

By Daphne Duret

A trial is expected to begin in September in the attempted murder case of Jorge Barahona, the man accused of trying to kill his adopted son in Palm Beach County after authorities say he and his wife murdered the boy’s twin sister in Miami.

Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg-Feuer this morning set Barahona’s trial for Sept. 28. Prosecutor Jill Richstone and Assistant Public Defender James Snowden estimate the trial will last eight to nine days.

On the morning of Valentine’s Day 2011, authorities found 10-year-old Nubia Barahona’s decomposing body just feet away from her brother, Victor, inside Jorge Barahona’s pest control truck along Interstate 95 in West Palm Beach.

Jorge Barahona and his wife Carmen are facing murder charges in connection with Nubia’s death in a death-penalty case in Miami. Jorge Barahona, who remains jailed in Miami, did not appear in Palm Beach County court for this morning’s hearing.

Dorset couple indicted on kidnapping, assault and sexual battery charges

Date: 2015-02-26

JEFFERSON_ Dorset Township couple David V. Moss and ReJeana Moss were secretly indicted by an Ashtabula County Grand Jury on nine felony charges of kidnapping, felonious assault and endangering name ReJeana Mossac name David V. Mossmoss

David Moss was also indicted on two second degree felony charges of sexual battery, and three third degree felony charges of gross sexual imposition with a minor.

The incidents are alleged to have occurred between September 1, 2011 and September 12, 2013 at 2530 St. Rt. 307 in Dorset Township where Mr. and Mrs. Moss and the victims resided. Mr. and Mrs. Moss adopted the victims approximately 11 years ago.

The charges stem from claims by two female children and an adult male who is mentally challenged. These individuals allege that the girls and male were locked in their separate bedrooms at the residence virtually all-day every day. The girls shared one bedroom and the adult male had his own bedroom. They further allege that were repeatedly beaten with a paddle by Mr. and Mrs. Moss. The children and male allege that the paddle was used so often and so harshly that it had blood stains on it.

Records refer to ‘chaotic’ family life before Florida girl’s fatal beating

Date: 2015-02-23

By Carol Marbin Miller

When Jenica Randazzo was removed from her grandparents’ home in September 2012, child welfare administrators had concluded she was in “substantial and immediate danger.”

A court-appointed guardian and a foster care worker remained “adamantly against” any contact between the girl and her grandparents a year later when foster care administrators considered reunifying the family. The private agency, which contracts with the Department of Children & Families, proceeded with the plan.

The skeptics proved hauntingly prophetic: On Feb. 7, Jenica’s uncle, who lived in the Pasco County home, bludgeoned 9-year-old Jenica to death with a tire iron, police say.

Executives with Eckerd Community Alternatives reviewed their handling of the case, and concluded “there were no indications that could have predicted this tragic outcome.”

Report on slain Pasco girl raises questions about case

Date: 2015-02-20

By Leah Masuda


Eckerd Community Alternatives has released thousands of pages of documents on Jenica Randazzo.

The 9-year-old girl was allegedly killed by her uncle Jason Rios nearly two weeks ago. Rios is also accused of killing his own mother and attempting to kill Jenica’s sister.

Jenica was taken from her parents because of substance abuse, then from her grandparents, and later from foster parents, over and over again.

Jenica and her siblings began living with their grandparents in 2012 after staying in separate foster homes. Shortly afterwards, a judge ordered them to be taken out of their grandparents’ home citing substantial and immediate danger.

“The children had some behaviors in the home and they could not handle those behaviors at that time,” said Eckerd Associate Executive Director Brian Bostick.

A year later the siblings were back but the situation still wasn’t ideal. Their grandmother was on disability, their grandfather lost his job, and now the aging couple had four kids to raise.

Federal prosecutor believes missing teen Erica Parsons may be dead

Date: 2015-02-19

By Shavonne Walker

A federal prosecutor in the Casey and Sandy Parsons sentencing hearing made a bold declaration in court, leading to the belief that the couple’s missing adopted daughter, Erica Lynn Parsons, is dead.

The couple faces prison time for accepting health care and adoption benefits for the teen, who had not been living with them.
Casey Parsons pleaded guilty in September to 15 counts of a 76-count indictment and Sandy Parsons was found guilty in October of 43 counts.

A judge continued the sentencing hearing until March 27, so that he can hear more details regarding the abuse of Erica Parsons.
Judge Thomas Schroeder heard from family members, including Casey and Sandy’s biological son, Jamie, as well as Casey’s sister, Robin Ashley.

Jamie Parsons told law enforcement on July 30, 2013, that Erica was missing. He told investigators he’d not seen his sister since about November 2011.

Prosecutor Anand Ramaswamy spoke of Jamie Parsons’ testimony and then said “Erica is no longer alive. There is an agreement between Casey Parsons and her husband to not report the death.”

GOP Lawmaker Introduces Bill To Force State To Pay For Religious Pre-School

Date: 2015-02-18

by David Badash

A Republican state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would force the state to pay for “faith-based” or religious daycare and pre-school, as long as the parent and not the state requests it. Arkansas‘ Rep. Randy Alexander is attempting to amend a state law, the Arkansas Better Chance Program — which provides funding to daycare and pre-school facilities — to remove the section that ensures the state does not fund religious-based education.

Additionally, Rep. Alexander’s Arkansas state legislature colleagues, Rep. Justin Harris and state Senator Johnny Key, happen to own chains of religious early childhood program pre-schools.

Biological mom speaks out after alleged abuse revealed in court

Date: 2015-02-18

The biological mother of Erica Parsons is speaking out after graphic details of the little girl's alleged abuse at the hands of her adoptive family were revealed in public for the first time.

Casey and Sandy Parsons appeared in federal court Wednesday to learn their sentencing on federal fraud charges. After a full day of testimony, the case was continued and will pick up again on March 27.

During the hearing, several people, including family members, testified about the couple and prosecutors asked questions, including allegations of abuse for the missing teenager.

Erica Parsons was reported missing in July 2013, more than a year after she was last seen by family members.

Witnesses on Wednesday included a woman who says she hired Casey to be a surrogate mother and deliver her baby. Casey claimed she miscarried the child. She later successfully delivered the baby and tried to sell the child to her sister, Robin Ashley, for $10,000.

Ashley took the stand Wednesday saying that Casey beat Erica and made her stand in the corner often. Pictures were shown of Erica standing in that corner on five different occasions.

Caseworkers: Pasco girl's death could not have been prevented

Date: 2015-02-17

by Eric Glasser

New Port Richey, FL -- After combing through thousands of pages, caseworkers say it's a tragedy, but they don't think they could have predicted – or prevented – the death of 9-year-old Jenica Randazzo.

Deputies say the little girl and her grandmother were killed by 24-year-old Jason Rios, who was living in the same New Port Richey home.

Eckerd Community Alternatives, the agency handling the case, reviewed thousand of documents.

Executive Director Brian Bostick says based on their review, there's nothing the agency could have done differently to save Jenica.

"Indications are that we don't have any information that would say that we knew that this was going to happen or that we could've prevented this," said Bostick.

Jenica and her grandmother Angela were killed, say Pasco deputies, by Jason Rios, who was Jenica's uncle. He'd been living in the same New Port Richey home as Jenica and her three siblings.

Documents offer look at home life of slain Pasco girl

Date: 2015-02-17

by Courtney Robinson

Tampa, FL – Eckerd Community Alternative released hundreds of pages on Monday documenting the home life of Jenica Randazzo.

On February 5th, 2015 Pasco County deputies responded to her grandparents house in New Port Richey where they say her uncle, Jason Rios, had brutally attacked her, her sister and murdered her grandmother. Jenica died in the hospital the next day.

10 News combed through the report ,which dates back to 2012, when Jenica was removed from her mother's care. She spent time in different foster homes before being placed in the home of Angela and Ernesto Rios, her grandparents. They were in the process of adopting her.

The pages reveal a somewhat typical third-grader. Jenica loved cheerleading, dance and volleyball. The report also paints a troubling picture. Jenica was being medicated and seeing a therapist for behavior issues. Caseworkers also report concern over the Rios home. They worry about safety and if the couple can meet Jenica's needs. They do note that there was a support system in place with extended family.

Daughter of Mississippi 'child collectors' breaks silence

Date: 2015-02-10

By Michael Clark

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Janet and Ramon Barreto were two of America's most wanted fugitives. The couple was on the run for five years after they were charged with the death of one of their adopted daughters.

Marainna Torres, Janet Barreto's biological daughter, served time for her parents' crime. Torres broke down in tears when asked about the death of her 2-year-old adopted sister, Ena.

"I'm sorry. She didn't deserve anything like that," said Torres. "I wish that she could have the life that the other children have."

Torres was 14 years old when her mother and stepfather began purchasing children from a Guatemalan adoption agency.

"I thought everything was going to be alright, and then she kept going on and adopting one after the other, and things started getting worse," Torres recalled.

Janet and Ramon Barreto adopted eight children overall. Investigators say the couple abused and tortured the kids inside a trailer in Union County, Mississippi.

One child was kept in a dog crate. Babies slept on plywood.

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