Author: GORDON OLIVER - of the Oregonian Staff
Summary: Charges of criminal mistreatment and abandonment are among those added
Oregon State Police have broadened their criminal investigation into the affairs of the Scott family of Cornelius, a state police sergeant told a Washington County court on Monday.
State police are now investigating allegations of criminal mistreatment of children, distribution of controlled substances, child abandonment and criminal non-support of children, said state police Sgt. Gordon Renskers.
The investigation began just before the state Children's Services Division removed 27 children from the home of Sherry Scott on Feb. 15 and placed them in foster care. Police had said earlier that they were looking into sexual abuse allegations, possibly involving abuse of some children by others who lived in the Scott home.
Renskers offered few details about the criminal investigation, which he estimated could take another six weeks.
In another development, Washington County Juvenile Court Judge Gayle Nachtigal set May 21 as the opening date of a trial to determine whether the children will be returned from foster care back to the Scott home. Nachtigal set aside four days for the trial, which is unrelated to the criminal investigation.
Charles Porter, Scott's attorney, won partial court victories in his requests to obtain more information from CSD and Juvenile Department files and to increase visits between Sherry Scott and her children. Nachtigal ordered the state police to release one finished report to attorneys involved with the case and said police would have until April 26 to release other reports now in the works.
Nachtigal also expanded access by attorneys to Juvenile Department and CSD files that until now had not been available to them.
The judge also urged CSD to expand the number of visits between Sherry and Carl Scott, who live separately, and those children who want to see their parents more frequently.
Attorneys representing at least 11 of the children said the children wanted more contact with one or both parents. Attorneys for several others said their clients did not want to see their parents more often. Some of the 20 court-appointed attorneys at the hearing said they didn't know what their clients wanted, either because their clients were disabled and unable to express their desires or were too young to understand the issue.
So far, only one meeting has been held between Sherry Scott and her children, and CSD has only allowed supervised phone contact beginning this week. Porter requested weekly visits, and asked that they be held in the Scott home instead of at the CSD office in Hillsboro.
Gary Shurtz, CSD's Washington County branch manager, said he would try to free enough staff members for weekly supervised visits.
Porter disclosed that the legal status of at least six of the children who lived with the Scotts at the time of the CSD action is clouded. Some were being adopted by the Scotts and paper work had not been finished. The state has been unable to find any legal papers on several of the children.