COUNTY: INSTEAD OF INVESTIGATING CHILD ABUSE, WORKER FILED FALSE REPORTS

CHILD ABUSE INVESTIGATOR FIRED
2010-04-28T13:04:00Z 2011-04-18T14:04:54Z COUNTY: INSTEAD OF INVESTIGATING CHILD ABUSE, WORKER FILED FALSE REPORTSMARCI LAEHR TENUTA mtenuta@journaltimes.com Journal Times

RACINE COUNTY - An employee of the Human Services Department has been fired and is under criminal investigation for allegedly filing false reports on child abuse cases he never investigated.

Todd O'Brien, a child protective services initial assessment worker with HSD who investigated complaints of child abuse and neglect, was terminated Tuesday, said Racine County Human Services Director Debra Jossart.

She says she is furious over the black eye the situation gives to her department and worried that O'Brien's alleged conduct could have resulted in continued child abuse.

Jossart and Racine County Executive William McReynolds contacted The Journal Times Wednesday.

"I have never been so angry," Jossart said. "It is not common practice. I've never had a case like this. We have hard-working, dedicated staff who care about children. They are angry about this."

McReynolds said the county will not tolerate such dereliction of duty from employees who are supposed to be protecting the children of the county.

"The sad thing about this is there are a lot of good, professional people working here," McReynolds said. "It makes everybody look bad."

It was actually other HSD employees who uncovered the alleged fraud.

McReynolds said that two weeks ago staff received information which caused a supervisor to look into O'Brien's reports.

Jossart said HSD workers were in the process of investigating a case and were speaking with family members to determine where the children involved in that case could be placed. One of the relatives on the list had once been investigated by O'Brien, according to the HSD report he filed.

However, when HSD workers contacted the family and asked them about the previous investigation, the family said there never was one. Yet, O'Brien had filed a detailed report that labeled those allegations of abuse as unsubstantiated.

"There was never an investigation," Jossart said. "That's when he was suspended."

Since that time, HSD has found three other families who have either made written or verbal statements that O'Brien never spoke to them about allegations of abuse or neglect. In each of those cases, O'Brien allegedly filed reports labeling the investigations "unsubstantiated" or "unable to contact."

"He was doing investigative reports without talking to anyone or going to the house," McReynolds said.

The county was unable, for privacy reasons, to release the names of the families who have made statements against O'Brien.

O'Brien has been employed with HSD since Aug. 31, 1998.

The department plans to continue making calls to families where O'Brien was the investigator to make sure other false reports weren't filed.

"We're looking at all his cases since 2007," Jossart said.

Specifically, they will be making contact with families in some 250 cases where allegations of child abuse or neglect were labeled "unfounded" or "unable to contact."

O'Brien was not the investigator in the Brian Hawes case from September of 2008, in which a 2-year-old boy died after being tied up with a blanket by his mother's boyfriend, Jessie Rodriguez.

Both Rodriguez and Brian's mother, Tisa Hawes, have been convicted of crimes related to causing his death.

In that case HSD took heat because it had received four reports of suspected abuse in the home prior to Brian's death. However, HSD investigators and police reported no evidence of abuse when they visited the family.

Since the Hawes case, HSD has made changes in how they handled allegations of abuse and specifically when and how investigations should be conducted. However, in this case, O'Brien was filing very detailed reports, Jossart said.

"We had no indication that this guy was a problem employee," McReynolds said.

But as soon as the first family verified that O'Brien had never spoken with them about abuse allegations, he was suspended.

"We immediately contacted the sheriff's department, who started a criminal investigation," McReynolds said.

The county executive said charges could be forthcoming for misconduct in public office and fraud.

Sheriff Bob Carlson said Wednesday that his department is investigating O'Brien; however he said they aren't getting much information.

"The investigation is still open," Carlson said. "At this point, (O'Brien) is refusing to talk to investigators. He lawyered up."

The Journal Times was unable to contact O'Brien and authorities said they didn't know who his attorney is.

A Garrity hearing, which is part of an internal employment investigation, was held Tuesday, Jossart said. Following the hearing, O'Brien was fired.

"We will be sending written notification that he can't come in the building," McReynolds said. They have also cut off O'Brien's access to their computer system.

Copyright 2016 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. sambrosini1
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    sambrosini1 - January 12, 2016 1:33 am
    RACINE WI allowed 15 false allegations, by same person. Police and CPS stated on record that the ACCUSER was being untruthful. Police were there night before, said no abuse or neglect occurred, 12 hrs later cps POLICE break in with no warrant, steal my children where we were laying down for a nap. The children were never injured, and they were supervised. Parents have no criminal record of any kind. Judge was long time friends with ACCUSER but never told parents then judge forced mom to continue with trial after mom said she could not MEDICALLY continue, mom ended up in ER Judge made ruling while mother was in ER. Go to Bring Ashton and Lexi Keegan home Facebook page sign petition for governor senetor to look into this case give parents fair trial they have ton of proof not allowed to use
  2. Sean Heusdens
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    Sean Heusdens - February 16, 2014 1:13 pm
    The last failure to protect the child was in out home placement. The first foster back out placement and second foster was not train at his G tube, The change amount feeding in second placement cause failure thrive with 1.1 weight or .86lbs depend use All saint medical records or C.H.W. Racine County C.P.S. respond was they did not cause the child brain damage, which never took no action. This issue I threat by Children Service Society worker Terri Meyers that did drop issues I never get return Placement. She keep her word the issues. Both Racine Human Service C.H.P. and Children Service Society(C.H.W.) file false documentation to issue in the case. I have documentation. Third event was in third foster home accident fall cause another possible head injury and did not get medical attention for four day accord to medical records Again no action by both Racine County C.H.P. and Children Service Society, but there was investigation on only fall determinant non abuse fall in third foster home. Terri Meyer was the case manager of forth foster home but did threat to me the sole custody parent by the court I had drop Child neglect issue Second and third foster home. Repeating the threat was to drop or loose return of child. I never protect X wife abuse they did I testify against her in court over the custody issue not the or any one else Primary reason I was sole Custody parent who granted Racine county C.H.P. joint ability only in court if I was not present make choice at the time of emergency. only. The system has major problem of cover up involve the protect of children. I further believe it is still a problem. Guess what I never meet gentleman this article about this workers. The problem is either these case worker still a part system or trained the current worker that lead to believe it is a current problem in Racine County C.P.S.
  3. Sean Heusdens
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    Sean Heusdens - February 16, 2014 12:34 am
    Another true is is was never my word against my x wife's. I was at work fifty miles away in Elkhorn WI, I new young family is not uncommon to live family in beginning of new marriage. However, my father was walking the dog , and cut the grass when x wife was lone with the child. She only person ever alone with the child in the time frame. I think he really never saw the abuse of my son.
  4. Sean Heusdens
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    Sean Heusdens - February 15, 2014 11:00 pm
    The true is false documentation is normal Racine County C.H.P. my son case in 2000. I always every year when live Racine hung picture of at their door. I move out Racine in 2010 and when picture stop hung there door one a year. It not really my pain and suffering that the issue.I remember is the cop say to me I hope you win Sean. I could never win even if I got return of the child. I could never fix his life it damage forever! I did win on sole custody! However, I never got return of placement. I just father in shock who did not want lose control emotion, and become the abuser of child abuser. Two wrong do not make right! I am a nursing assistant of 20 year with clean record. I treat everyone client as if they are mother who died when I was 16 year old. My son would well sever under my care. However, nobody can win because my son never have life he should have lived. Racine County C.H.P. need do their job protect the child from person who hurt them. In this case they let her go without record of her actions.
  5. Sean Heusdens
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    Sean Heusdens - February 15, 2014 10:26 pm
    thank god I can control my emotion.I believe my Air Force training help me not act on those emotion Unlike my x wife! I told right from the start if I was her I would just leave because I do not if one day I would line up to destroy her for she did him. She just would not leave until she got away with act child abuse on our son. Racine County C.P.S. doe suck this was major child abuse case.
  6. Sean Heusdens
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    Sean Heusdens - February 15, 2014 10:03 pm
    Well would let read my son case I do still all paper in huge file cabinet, Medical records,Racine CPS record, , Children Hospital reports, x rays, and CT scans. I still owner every piece paper in that case. I was only person got up in the court in whole three year testify against her in custody hearing in the C.H.I.P.S. Hey the always blame me on being soft x wife the child abuser. The true is when we where in court I am the only person attempt go after to protect the child in court. It was the only time real got say anything in the case. I made sure made court even if only hear say. Racine county D.A. nothing Racine P.D. nothing Racine County C.P.S. nothing. Yes it true I did want make choice at the time. It was very hard point at my life. However, they did not do there job of protect the child. If I had saw the abuse I not sure she would even walk in the court room, Thank god I did not even see the A.H.T. child abuse happen for her sake.
  7. ralph
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    ralph - December 17, 2013 5:41 pm
    oh i have a long story from racine county and how they do business , drug enforcement unit included, bad thing is , is they all work together , worried about there jobs , doesnt matter who gets hurt.they will use kids in drug raids , they dont even call the other parent, he has to find out the hard way, my story... my ex wife had cops break door down in june,dogs the whole works , do you think child protective services would call me to come get my 5 year old son? NOPE!!!! i had to call them!!!! Racine county CPS sucks. I gave them info. on 2nd case against ex, and they told me the case was closed ...its a shame these people have the right to ruin kids and families!!!
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