Suspect also accused of abusing daughter, 9

Date: 2006-02-28

By ELIZABETH CAMPBELL

CLEBURNE -- David Michael
Giddens, arrested this month
after the death of a baby in his
care, has also been accused of
sexually abusing his 9-year-old
adopted daughter.

The allegations came during a
temporary custody hearing
Monday in Johnson County 249th
District Court to determine
whether the girl should remain in
foster care, be returned to her
mother or placed with another
relative.

Giddens remains incarcerated in
the Johnson County Jail after
Nicholas Hoffert, a 3-month-old
whom Giddens and his wife
planned to adopt, died Feb. 9.
Investigators found the boy had
suffered head injuries near the
time of his death.

Giddens has been charged with
injury by omission resulting in
death. A criminal investigation is
ongoing, officials said.

Authorities removed Nicholas'
twin brother, Gary, from the
home after the incident, after
investigators discovered that the
child had seven broken ribs,
bruises on his back and injuries to
his legs. Officials returned the boy
to Michigan, where the Giddenses
went to adopt the twins.

Visiting Judge C.C. "Kit" Cooke
ruled Monday that the 9-year-old
girl, who has special needs,
should remain in foster care. The
Star-Telegram generally does not
identify alleged victims in sexual
assault cases.

Cooke said he wants to review
the case again in two weeks, after
the Texas Department of Family
and Protective Services completes
a home study of the girl's aunt,
Kathy Strube. A status hearing is
set for April 17, but a custody
ruling could come sooner.
Doug Wright, an attorney
representing Giddens' wife,
Latresa Lynette "Lynn" Giddens,
said he is glad the judge put the
case on a fast track.

"We didn't get what we wanted,
but we believe Lynn will be
cleared of any wrongdoing," he
said. "Lynn is very motivated to
get her daughter back."
Wright said he believes that the
child's aunt will be given
temporary custody, and that the
girl will be returned to her
mother.

Shelly Fowler, an attorney
representing the interests of the
children, said that after being
removed from her home, the 9-
year-old told her foster mother
and a team of doctors and nurses
that her father had abused her.

During the hearing, Latresa
Giddens said she had no
knowledge of the sexual abuse
allegations, but that she would
believe her daughter. David
Giddens, who attended the
hearing, declined to testify.

Investigators questioned Latresa
Giddens about taking her
daughter to the doctor because of
"pain in her private area." She
said she thought her daughter
had a bladder infection, but a
urinalysis proved negative.

She said she was not aware of
injuries to Gary or Nicholas. When
asked why she didn't notice
Gary's bruises, she replied that
she saw the child with his clothes
on.

Since Nicholas' death, Latresa
Giddens has filed for divorce,
attorneys said.
Latresa Giddens worked during
the day at the University of Texas
Southwestern Medical School and
left the children with David
Giddens, who has multiple
sclerosis, and her aunt.

Meanwhile, several witnesses
praised Latresa Giddens for her
patience in raising the girl

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