Case news

Most recent articles added to the case archives



American to face trial in Guatemala adoption case

Date: 2015-01-08

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- A Guatemalan court has ordered an American woman to stand trial on charges of participating in illegal adoptions.

The prosecutors' office for human trafficking says the court found sufficient evidence to try Nancy Susan Bailey, who is being treated for high blood pressure at a Guatemalan hospital.

Bailey was apprehended in El Salvador and turned over to Guatemalan authorities at the border between the two Central American countries Dec. 17.

The arrest warrant for Bailey was issued in 2008 and charged her with taking children and putting them up for illegal adoption for fees as high as $40,000.

Bailey founded the orphanage Seeds of Love outside Guatemala's capital in 1996.

Guatemala's International Commission Against Impunity said in a 2010 report that it found 3,342 irregular adoptions, mostly to U.S. couples.

Judge sends man to prison for 30 years for molestation of 5-year-old adopted daughter

Date: 2015-01-07

By Theresa Ghiloni

JACKSON, MI -- Before sentencing a man who admitted to molesting his 5-year-old adopted daughter to 30 to 50 years in prison for one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, Circuit Judge John G. McBain said he couldn't "wrap his head" around the crime.

"I just can't wrap my head around a 46-year-old man who's gonna turn his daughter into a sex toy," McBain said. "I'm sure what you have done has emotionally scarred her and the rest of your family for the rest of their lives."

Jackson County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kati Rezmierski told McBain during the Jan. 7 sentencing that the man violated what should have been "a sacred bond" with his daughter. She said his actions will eventually cause the now 7-year-old she described as "amazing" and "fierce" to internalize the "shame and degradation" he caused.

The man's name has been withheld because he shares a name with his daughter and the Citizen Patriot typically does not print names of sexual assault victims.

Janet Barreto, once most-wanted fugitive, dies in custody

Date: 2014-12-24

By Therese Apel, The Clarion-Ledger

A woman once on the U.S. Marshals' Most Wanted Fugitives list in connection with the death of her adopted child has died in custody, officials said.

Janet Barreto, 43, died of natural causes shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday at Central Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, according to a news release from the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

MDOC officials said they do not have further information on Barreto's health conditions while in custody.

Barreto and her husband, Ramon, spent five years running from authorities after failing to appear for trial in 2009 in the death of their 2-year-old adopted daughter, Enna.

In 2008, authorities raided the Barretos' home in Union County on a tip that Enna had been abused. She was taken from a local hospital to Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center in Memphis, where she died. Doctors there suspected child neglect and tipped off local authorities, who got a warrant and raided the property.

Dixon child abuse case moving forward as 10 children get therapy for 'abuse/neglect'

Date: 2014-12-19

By GABRIEL MONTE

The case of a Lubbock woman accused of abusing her adopted daughter is set to go to trial in February, according to court records.

And the 10 children she and her husband were responsible for raising remain in foster care and are receiving therapy to “move past the abuse/neglect they’ve experienced,” a children’s advocate said.

Wonda Dixon, 59, is accused of withholding food, water and medical care from her 12-year-old adopted daughter.

A Lubbock County grand jury indicted Dixon on Oct. 1, 2013, on a charge of injuring a child knowingly or intentionally, resulting in severe bodily injury.

Her husband, 63-year-old Dave Dixon, faces the same charge.

They were arrested the next day and were booked into the Lubbock County Detention Center where they remain incarcerated.

The couple have denied any wrongdoing.

Their bond is set at $150,000 each, according to jail records.

They are being represented by different attorneys and their request for a bond reduction last year was denied, according to court records.

American arrested on illegal adoption, human trafficking charges in Guatemala

Date: 2014-12-18

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) – Guatemalan authorities have arrested an American accused of human trafficking and participating in illegal adoptions.

Prosecutors say Nancy Susan Bailey was apprehended in El Salvador and turned over to Guatemalan authorities via Interpol at the border between the two Central American countries.

The arrest warrant for Bailey was issued in 2008 and charged her with taking children and putting them up for illegal adoption for fees as high as $40,000, according to a statement released by prosecutors. She was arrested Tuesday.

Bailey founded the orphanage "Seeds of Love" outside the Guatemalan capital in 1996.

Guatemala's International Commission Against Impunity issued a report in 2010 saying it found 3,342 irregular adoptions, mostly to U.S. couples.

The commission described networks of child-trafficking in the country for the purpose of illegal adoptions.

Palmdale mother pleads to torturing children

Date: 2014-12-16

by M. Dilworth

PALMDALE – A 52-year-old Palmdale woman accused of tying up and beating her two adopted children with electrical cords and a hammer has pleaded no contest.

Ingrid Brewer pleaded no contest Monday to two counts of torture, and she is expected to be sentenced to seven years to life in state prison, according to Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Brewer has been in police custody since Jan. 16, 2013. She was arrested hours after her two adopted children were found huddled in a blanket, under a parked vehicle, about a quarter of a mile away from their Palmdale home. The 8-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl told detectives they ran away from home because they were tired of being tied up and beaten by Brewer, according to Sgt. Brian Hudson of the Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau.

“Even our most veteran child abuse detectives were appalled at what we came across in this incident,” Hudson said at the time.

Texas Mother of 5 Released After Spending Years in Prison for Foster Son's Murder

Date: 2014-12-16

By JUJU CHANG, SHANA DRUCKERMAN and JON MEYERSOHN

Hannah Overton, who has spent seven years in a Texas prison for the murder of a young foster child she says she didn't commit, has finally won her freedom and will be spending this Christmas with her family.

A Nueces County judge granted Overton's bond at a hearing Tuesday afternoon for $50,000 and she was released from the county jail.

The district attorney of Nueces County, Mark Skurka, has already announced his intention to try Overton again on capital murder charges. That trial currently has no date set.

Her release, pending a new trial, comes over two months after the highest appellate court in Texas overturned her murder conviction and life sentence for the death of 4-year-old Andrew Burd, a foster child Overton and her husband, Larry, were in the process of adopting.

Overton sat down with ABC News for an exclusive interview from behind prison bars after she got word via email that the appellate court had ruled in her favor.

State puts on hold settlement payment to Nubia Barahona’s brother

Date: 2014-12-14

By Mary Ellen Klas -

TALLAHASSEE —

When the state of Florida quietly agreed to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit over the gruesome death of 10-year-old Nubia Barahona and the torture of her twin brother, Victor, it all but admitted it was at fault.

Now, the Florida Department of Children and Families and lawyers for the state Legislature want to put the deal on hold and indefinitely delay final payments.

DCF agreed to settle the lawsuit in March 2013, two years after Victor was found near death and covered with pesticides alongside his sister’s decomposing body on I-95 in Palm Beach County. A 2011 DCF report concluded that, from the time Victor and Nubia Barahona entered the child welfare system as infants through Nubia’s death, their safety net was a “systemic failure.”

Ringgold woman accused of abusing adopted son says she’s innocence

Date: 2014-12-04

By Adam Cook

A Ringgold woman accused of abusing her 11-year-old adopted son is proclaiming her innocence.

Christine Evelyn Baughman, in a prepared statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 3 through her attorney, said she is “innocent of these allegations that have been made against her.”

“… As more light is cast upon this situation, her innocence will become apparent,” Baughman’s attorney Adam C. Cathey of Ringgold said in the statement.

“On November 25, 2014, Dr. (Henry) and Ms. Baughman were contacted by Catoosa County child protection and law enforcement authorities,” Cathey said. “At that time, Dr. and Ms. Baughman were informed of allegations having been made by an unknown third party regarding their son. Notwithstanding their full compliance with the investigation, Ms. Baughman was hastily arrested at 10:00 p.m. that evening. While the charges made against Ms. Baughman appear very serious, she wants to assure the community that she is innocent of these allegations that have been made against her.”

Ringgold woman arrested for child abuse of adopted son

Date: 2014-12-03

By Adam Cook

A Ringgold woman was arrested for alleged child abuse two days before Thanksgiving, following an investigation of claims that she physically and emotionally abused her 11-year-old adopted son.

According to the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Department:

Christine Evelyn Baughman, 43, was arrested Tuesday, Nov. 25, for first-degree cruelty to children. She was released from jail the following day, Nov. 26, on a $5,000 bond.

The investigation into Baughman’s treatment of the child began with a welfare check of the boy at the family’s home on Nov. 22, after a complaint had been submitted to the Department of Family and Children Services.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was also notified of the complaint, as was child crimes detective Tim Deal with the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Department.

“It’s a joint investigation,” sheriff Gary Sisk said Wednesday, Dec. 3. “Interviews were conducted in the case, and the charge was then brought about.”

Catoosa County Woman Arrested for Cruelty to Children

Date: 2014-12-03

A Ringgold woman faces a child cruelty charge for abusing her own son, according to the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office Wednesday.

Christine Evelyn Baughman is charged with cruelty to children in the first degree, accused of physically and emotionally abusing her child. he police report indicated that the "weapon" used was an "adult belt." After a search online, NewsChannel9 found out the suspect worked in healthcare around children.

According to the incident report, the alleged abuse happened between November 19 and November 20 at the family's home at 635 Middleview Drive in Ringgold. Whitfield County case workers with the Department of Family and Children Services were called to check out the boy on November 22. That's when DFCS took photos of injuries and reported everything to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, authorities said.

Kathleen and Martin O'Brien plead not guilty to child abuse charges

Date: 2014-12-02

By Andrea Anderson

ELKHORN—A Lake Geneva couple accused of abusing their children told at least one adopted child that if he or she told anyone about the abuse, the child would be sent back to his or her respective country, Judge James Carlson said Tuesday.

Kathleen and Martin O'Brien were charged in May 2012 with a combined 23 felony and misdemeanor charges of abusing their six children—some adopted from Guatemala and the former Soviet Union. Accusations range from spraying the children with pepper spray to making them stand outside shoeless in the winter

In September, attorneys for the O'Briens filed motions to dismiss or modify five charges, saying prosecutors were too vague about when the crimes supposedly happened.

Carlson denied the motions Tuesday, and the O'Briens pleaded not guilty to the remaining charges.

Kathleen, 52, pleaded not guilty to four felony counts of child abuse and one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct. Martin, 52, pleaded not guilty to six felony counts of child abuse.

The Limits of Jurisdiction

Date: 2014-12-01

By Erin Siegal McIntyre

It’s unclear how the two-year-old broke her femur, Dr. Napoleon Castillo Molinedo told me. The Guatemalan pediatrician regularly saw the child, identified as “Karen Abigail Lopéz García” in his office records, for check-up appointments and vaccinations. Firing up a weary PC, the doctor retrieved Karen’s old records, printing out a list: ten visits in the first seven months of 2007 alone.

The adults who brought the toddler into Castillo’s office, members of the Bran family, were in the business of children. More specifically, they provided what most Americans call “foster care” for Guatemalan kids during their adoptions to mostly American families. According to Castillo, the Brans “didn’t overflow with love for the kids.”

“I charged them less per child, since they brought so much volume through my office,” the doctor said. He said the Brans claimed Karen “fell down” and broke her limb “jumping on a bed.” But he didn’t believe them.

Taking a stand: Community involvement needed to alleviate child abuse

Date: 2014-11-18

'Screaming from the rooftops': Child abuse a problem requiring community action, experts and victims say

By Sarah Rafique

Nearly 12 years of beatings, malnutrition and mistreatment didn’t end until Kate Belus’ adopted brother was lying in a coma in the hospital and Child Protective Services stepped in.

Now, Belus wonders if it could have been prevented if her neighbors had just spoken up.

“There wasn’t ever an outlet (for me) to see that what was happening was wrong,” said Belus, 31, who now lives in Lubbock after graduating from Texas Tech. “I didn’t understand why nobody had said anything earlier.

“Once the trial happened a whole bunch of people stepped up and said, ‘Yeah, we thought something was wrong but we didn’t really say anything.’ So that’s hard. They could have stopped it earlier.”

Eventually, Belus’ parents, Christine and Richard Dodson, were sentenced to 45 years in prison for injury to a child.

Littlest victims: Kate Belus still feels pain of neglect decades after abuse by parents

Date: 2014-11-16

Belus says transition difficult for victims

By Sarah Rafique

Christine Dodson shook her daughter awake.

She told the 11-year-old she had to watch the other kids.

Her youngest brother was not breathing.

“I came downstairs (and) in the foyer on the ground, my step-dad was doing CPR on him and didn’t wait for an ambulance,” said Kate Belus, 31, who now lives in Lubbock. “They packed up and went straight to the hospital.”

A combination of trying to “beat the demon” out of him and lack of nourishment led to gangrene and, after several attempts of resuscitation, Belus’ adopted brother fell into a coma. While at Brackenridge Children’s Hospital in Austin, doctors conducted skin grafts to help his skin repair. They waited for the 5-year-old boy to wake.

It took several months.

Belus’ mom and step-dad, Richard Dodson, were tried in 1996 for the abuse they caused him. They were never charged for the abuse Belus said she and her other siblings endured.

The Dodsons are serving 45-year sentences each.

Investigating child abuse

Pound Pup Legacy