State investigates DHS in Tyler case

Date: 2008-12-04

Fairview Republican

The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (OCCY) has launched an investigation into Department of Human Services (HDS) handling of a local child abuse and rape case.

Lisa Smith, OCCY director, stated that her agency is the oversight entity for the child protective services branch of DHS. According to Smith, OCCY recently began its investigation into how DHS has handled the case of the Tyler family, of rural Major County.

Penny Sue Tyler and husband Ardee Tyler face one count each of felony child abuse involving one of five girls that the couple adopted from Liberia in 2005. In a separate charge, the couple's son, Ashton Tyler, has been charged with one count of felony rape by instrumentation against the same adopted girl, who was 12 years old at the time of the alleged offense.

The adopted daughter that is the victim of the alleged offenses has since moved to the home of Penny Sue Tyler's cousin, Barbara Thomas-Johnson of Ill. The four remaining girls, however, remain in the Tyler household west of Fairview. The girls were removed from the Tyler home under a judge's order shortly after the felony charges were filed, but they were subsequently returned to the Tylers after a custody hearing in October.

Smith stated that the source of the complaint that let to the ongoing OCCY investigation of DHS in confidential. But, she did confirm that OCCY is "looking into child protective services and how that service responded in this case." In a response to a request for comment on the investigation, DHS communications manager Lauri Hanna acknowledged that DHS is currently under investigation for its handling of the case. Hanna said of OCCY that "part of their charter is to make sure we follow proper policies and procedures." "It is our responsibility to cooperate with their investigation and provide them with any information they need," concluded Hanna.

There was no word as of press time how long it might take to complete the ongoing investigation in this case.

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