Foster parent accused of sex abuse: 'You can't know the things people hide'

By Laura Rillos

November 18, 2009 / KVALnews

EUGENE, Ore. -- Members of Lane County's foster parent community are shaken by allegations a foster parent sexually abused two of his children.

Joshua Thomas Friar, 26, was arrested after two of his foster children alleged he had sex with them.  According to Oregon State Police investigators, Friar met the boys while working at Jasper Mountain, a facility for children with emotional problems.

According to court records, the boys were 9 and 12 when the abuse allegedly started.

"It frustrates me and angers me to know something like this could happen to the children in our foster care system," said Tammy Hadley, a foster parent and president of the Foster Parent Association for Lane County.  "It angers me really badly."

To become a foster parent, Friar had to go through a Department of Human Services screening.  It included a criminal background check, checks with references as well as interviews and home visits.

Friar also passed the screening process at Jasper Mountain.

However, until his arrest Saturday, Friar had no criminal record.

Patricia Feeney, a DHS spokeswoman, acknowledged their system is not foolproof.

"I think, for the most part, I would say to you, children are safe in foster care," said Feeney, who said she could not comment specifically on Friar's case.

When asked if DHS had plans to evaluate the foster parent screening process, Feeney said, "Actually, we've already done that. We've changed. It's a much more rigorous process."

She believed those changes took effect this fall and said they are stricter than they were when Friar became a foster parent.  She would not disclose when that was.

Hadley believes the system works as best as it can.

"You can't know some body's heart," she said.  "You can't know the things people hide."
Hadley fears this case will give people a bad impression of the foster care system.

"There are good and bad people, there are good and bad foster parents, there are good and bad news stations," she said.  "And you know, it's a hard, hard place. It breaks my heart."

Friar has not yet entered a plea, as a grand jury has to decide whether or not to indict him.

He is being held on $2 million bail.



Criminal records, child safety, and the screening process

No criminal record simply means the person in question was not convicted of a crime.  That, by no means, should suggest the person being studied for future foster care/adoptive parenting is without red flag raising problems that can be very dangerous for a child. 

"You can't know some body's heart," she said.  "You can't know the things people hide."

No truer words can be said, says the girl who was placed in a house filled with all sorts of skelton-filled closets.  I have often thought, had anyone really looked into the depth and scope of profound anger and family dysfunction found within both sides of my chosen family, would I have still been placed in that home?

I'd like to know what foster/adoptive parents think about the home-study screening process because I know I'm biased.  I base my own personal opinion on the belief that many agencies rush to place children in homes because it's good for business.  [How else does one explain a child being placed with a not-so-reformed alcoholic, or closet prescription pill-popper or combustible tyrant, or pedophile, or a person who can't handle more than one child.....?]

Are enough probing questions asked by those conducting a future-parent study, and are full family histories collected and considered when choosing a future home for a child put in-care?

Again not an isolated incident

This is not the first time children are being preyed on by people working at institutional facilities. Here are some other cases where children were adopted or taken into foster care by institutional workers for the sake of sexual abuse:

Boy adopted by George Alex Allen
Boy adopted by Scott Legrand
Girl in guardianship of James Matthew McDaniel-Webb
Girls adopted by Stephen L. and Melina Ann McPherson

Pound Pup Legacy