Family allowed to adopt 3 kids despite sexual assault history in home
By Richard Belcher
May 14, 2013 / wsbtv.com
ATLANTA — A grandmother is expressing outrage, saying the state missed an alarming red flag for a family allowed to adopt three children.
The family adopting the children failed to
admit to a sexual assault inside their home and Channel 2 Action News has learned a background investigation also missed the crime.
The adopting family's home was the site of a sexual assault by an 18-year-old family member on a younger family member.
The molester is now serving 25 years in prison. But the family wasn't fully forthcoming about the assault.
"The things they've done to me and my grandchildren and my family are horrendous," grandmother Flora Richardson told Channel 2's Richard Belcher.
Richardson is angry because she lost custody of her three grandchildren whose father was in prison.
The Department of Family and Children Services won't talk, but Belcher learned the agency asked a judge to give custody to another local family even though the adopting family initially withheld shocking information.
"I have done adoption law for about 37 years," said James Outman, who is Richardson's lawyer.
"Ever seen a case like this?" Belcher asked Richardson.
"No," he replied
What shocked Outman was that 18-year-old Otis Jemison Jr., had been charged with aggravated child molestation against a younger family member in the adopting parents' home.
But when the private agency families first interviewed the Jemison family, they never mentioned the assault.
Richardson said DFCS dropped the ball.
"If I could find it out not two hours after we left court, surely DFCS had to know this," Richardson told Belcher.
Richardson says she left an adoption related hearing at the Fulton County Courthouse last fall, went straight home and got on her computer.
"And that's when I found there was that the man's name, I put in, had an open case for child molestation, aggravated child molestation and sodomy," Richardson said.
Richardson thought DFCS or the judge would oppose the adoption when it became clear the Jemisons hadn't disclosed the assault.
At the last minute, the family confessed.
"It came out actually under oath that the adoptive parents stated that they intentionally withheld the information from the department, intentionally withheld information from the agency that conducted their home study," Outman said.
And the adoption went through.
Virtually no officials will talk, but Belcher has learned that five DFCS workers were investigated for misconduct.