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