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Sex-abuse allegations swirl around foster dad


A sex-abuse investigation by police and state child welfare administrators involving a former Broward foster father has widened after an 8-year-old boy who lived with the man told authorities that he had been molested.

The boy’s allegations against former foster father Michael McGuigan came about eight months after an adult man reported to the Margate Police Department that McGuigan had molested him when he was a child near Boston. Following the most recent disclosure, administrators with the Department of Children & Families removed a separate child, an adopted son, from McGuigan’s home. That youngster originally had been placed in the home as a foster child. “

Details of the investigation emerged Friday as Broward Circuit Judge Kenneth Gillespie, who presides over child-welfare matters, held a routine hearing involving two brothers who had been placed in foster care and then reunited with their parents. Neither the children nor their parents are being named by The Miami Herald to protect the family’s privacy.

At Friday’s hearing, Gillespie asked whether the 8-year-old was receiving counseling to deal with the abuse he reportedly suffered. A caseworker for Broward’s privately run child welfare group, ChildNet, said the boy is seeing a therapist. Gillespie instructed child welfare administrators to ensure that no children in state custody be placed in McGuigan’s home.

“I hate to say this, but no more children can be placed there until this investigation is complete,”

Gillespie told Ann Keough, an assistant attorney general who represented the state at Friday’s hearing.

“I know these are allegations; I understand that,” the judge added. “But until this investigation is complete, none of my children are to be placed there.”

Addressing the boys’ mother, the judge added: “I’m sorry that these allegations are arising. We are investigating them.”

A child-welfare spokesman said no children from state care have been in McGuigan’s home since last spring.

“Following the allegations last year, we immediately removed all foster children from the home, and Mr. McGuigan voluntarily relinquished his foster-care license,” said Mark Riordan, a spokesman in Broward for the Department of Children & Families.

Neither McGuigan, who is a vice president at the Broward House HIV/AIDS service group, nor his attorney, Larry Davis, responded to calls from a Miami Herald reporter. McGuigan was not present for the hearing.

McGuigan first came to the attention of child protection administrators in 2009, when he was the foster father for 7-year-old Gabriel Myers — whose death remains one of the most shocking in Florida history.

Gabriel, who told authorities he had been fondled by an older boy when he lived with grandparents in Ohio, had been taken into DCF custody in June 2008 when his mother, Candace Myers, was found passed out in her car in the parking lot of a restaurant, surrounded by tranquilizers and other narcotics.

McGuigan had custody of Gabriel in the spring of 2009, when the boy’s behavior became difficult.

At that time, McGuigan asked child welfare administrators to remove Gabriel from his home, saying Gabriel had threatened to harm both him and a toddler foster child in his home — the boy McGuigan later adopted.

Gabriel later hanged himself with a shower cord in the bathroom of another foster family. He had been prescribed a cocktail of powerful psychiatric drugs, some of which have been linked to a higher risk of suicide among children, and his death sparked a year-long DCF investigation into the use of such drugs among foster children.

Last May, child-welfare chiefs removed both the adoptive son and three foster children from McGuigan’s home after an adult man who used to live in Massachusetts, McGuigan’s home state, told authorities that McGuigan had molested him when he was a child. Sources told The Herald at the time that the man’s story had been corroborated by a witness.

Later last year, the adoptive son was returned to McGuigan after a Broward judge ruled that the state had offered insufficient evidence to warrant the termination of McGuigan’s rights to the boy. The child was removed again this year, though, following the new allegations. A judge has yet to decide whether the boy should be returned to McGuigan or remain in state care.

At the hearing Friday, Keough told the judge that the new report was being investigated by police. A spokesman for the Margate Police Department, which has been handling the case, could not be reached Friday.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/10/2635454/sex-abuse-allegations-swirl-around.html

2012 Feb 10