Commentary: CPS Heavy-Handed Overreach
When the overreaching heavy hand of the government leads to even one instance of injustice, a little bit of liberty is lost for all citizens.
On July 2, 2019, in Kaufman County, Texas, another piece of liberty was chipped from our society. Once again, in a very sad courtroom scene, the “legal” abduction of a 4-year-old child by the Texas Child Protective Service (CPS) was upheld by what can only be described as an egregious miscarriage of justice.
During a hearing, that lasted more than six hours, little to no evidence was presented that indicated either parent, of the 4-year-old boy, had actually done anything remotely close to child abuse. In fact, no one involved in the whole prosecution process had ever met or talked with either parent, or met or talked with the child.
The doctor from Children’s Hospital, who apparently initiated the forceful removal, had no history of treating the child, had never seen the child, and did not make a complete review of all of the child’s medical records.
The CPS caseworker, responsible for initiating the legal process, as an “emergency” necessity, had no firsthand knowledge of any of the alleged charges she levied against the parents, had never met or talked with the child, and had made no attempt to complete a background investigation, as required by CPS policy.
Yet, the courtroom judge insisted that the process to permanently terminate parental rights be continued, that no further interaction between the child and the parents be allowed except with CPS approval and supervision, and that CPS be granted total control over all needs of the child.
Yes, that is the same Texas CPS that is notorious for the extensive abuse and high rate of suicides of children, in their care and in their foster child care system.
How Could This Have Happened?
Each of the four parties (Hospital/Doctor, CPS, Court System and Child’s Ad Litem Attorney) involved failed in its primary responsibility to act in accordance with its role of “protecting the child first”.
While all four parties failed their responsibility, CPS is the root of the failure.
This government agency is the real genesis of this problem and others like it. There has been multiple confirmed cases that CPS does not know when or under what circumstances it is in the best interest of the child to be removed from parental custody.
All too often it seems CPS errs on the side of the parent is guilty of child neglect instead of ensuring the protection of the child from the true evil in the world.
Unfortunately, from the testimony given last week, there appears to be little or no supervisory oversight to ensure that overzealous caseworkers are actually working in the best interest of the child.
In this instance, the CPS caseworker had:
1. never seen or talked to the child;
2. not seen or talked to the parents;
3. not seen or talked to family members;
4. not seen or talked to neighbors;
5. not conducted a background investigation;
6. not attempted to resolve the issue without removal;
7. refused to disclose the allegations to the parents or to their lawyer;
8. misquoted and misrepresented a hospital doctor’s affidavit to obtain the court order and;
9. had no firsthand knowledge of any wrong doing by the parents;
was allowed to initiate an “emergency” action to remove a child from his parents and to begin the process to permanently terminate parental rights.
By declaring it an “emergency”, the caseworker was able to forcefully remove the child by requiring his father to put him in a waiting police vehicle without having to first complete any of the procedural steps which were supposedly put in place to ensure that removal from the home was done as a last resort action.
The court hearing testimony and behavior of the caseworker can only be described as strange or bizarre. On almost every question that could be answered with a “yes” or “no”, the caseworker would first look down and appeared to be shuffling through papers looking for the answer.
Then she would look up and at the CPS attorney who would be nodding her head in either a “yes” or a “no” movement. The caseworker would then answer accordingly. After a while, I began watching the judge and it appeared to me that he, too, was watching the CPS attorney appearing to be coaching the witness, but he never called them out.
Even though there was an exhaustive series of questions asked, the caseworker never gave a reason why the first and only official action by CPS had to be an “emergency” order for removal.
It was also quite clear, to me, that the CPS caseworker’s personal push led her to take it upon herself to pursue an “emergency” order.
Doing so, in essence, showed the family’s attorney that she was from the government, she could do anything to that family that she wanted to do, when he indicated he was going to take the case up the CPS chain of command.
Knowing that judges, for self-protection, almost always side with CPS was the only path to ensure that she got a pelt-for-her-belt.
Part 2: CPS Caseworker
This government agency, Child Protective Services (CPS), is the genesis of this problem and others like it. As has been confirmed multiple times, CPS does not know when or under what circumstances it is in the best interest of the child to remove the child from parental custody.
All too often, it seems CPS errs on the side of “the parent is guilty of child neglect or abuse” instead of ensuring the protection of the child from the true evil in the world. Unfortunately, from the testimony given last week, there appears to be little or no supervisory oversight to ensure that overzealous case workers are actually working in the best interest of the child.
The sworn affidavit and testimony of the caseworker has several issues. Remember, she testified that she had never seen or talked to the child or anyone with firsthand knowledge of the statements that she swears to be true.
Some of the questionable statements in her affidavit in support of removal, dated June 20, 2019, are: (Her affidavit paragraph titles and numbers are below, in bold.)
3. ALLEGATIONS (page 2)
Essentially, every statement is either untrue, a twisting of a similar statement, or just plain hearsay.
Examples of some of the misstatements:
“… referral alleging the physical abuse of Kaleb by Ashley Pardo.” – No such statement is in the hospital doctor’s affidavit.
“Ashley is displaying behavior associated with Munchausen syndrome by proxy.” – On what basis? The caseworker is not a doctor and has never seen Ashley.
“Ashley convinced a doctor to put in an NG tube … .” – There is no evidence or testimony to support this. How does anyone “convince” a doctor to do a medical procedure against his will?
“Ashley constantly wheels Kaleb around in the wheelchair.” – This statement is not in the hospital doctor’s affidavit, and the caseworker could not possibly have any firsthand knowledge.
“Ashley began telling everyone that Kaleb had epilepsy.” – There is no evidence or testimony to support this statement. Again, the caseworker is swearing this to be true, even though she has never heard Ashley speak.
4. CPS HISTORY (page 4)
This is a particularly outrageous section in which the caseworker uses “allegations” against Ashley’s previous husband—who, it appears, has some real problems—to make it appear to the casual reader that the problems were with the current family; nothing could be further from the truth.
The caseworker began this section with the statement: “The family appears to have previous CPS history” – She then uses four pages to list several law enforcement allegations against Ashley’s first husband; none of which had any finding of neglect or child abuse.
In the second to last sentence of the 05/23/2014 allegation statement, the caseworker makes an outright lie when she states:
“Ashly Pardo said Daniel Pardo struck Ashly Pardo while Ashly Pardo was pregnant with Linzey Pardo.” This could not possibly be true. Ashly and Daniel did not meet until long after Linzey was born.
It appears that the caseworker knew her case against the Pardo family was extremely weak, therefore she chose to include these “red herring” allegations to mislead the court into thinking this was a really bad family with a lot of violent history.
6. CONCLUSION (page 7)
The caseworker misquotes the hospital doctor’s affidavit and makes a statement that is contrary to courtroom testimony. One of the two statements has to be untrue.
“The Reach clinic has provided its findings as highly concerning for medical child abuse.”
The word “highly” is not in the hospital doctor’s affidavit. In fact, in testimony, the hospital doctor made it quite clear that she simply had “some” concerns after a partial review of the child’s medical files, and those concerns were resolved after discussion with the parents. (This discussion took place after the affidavit but before the court hearing.)
“The Department has attempted to identify safe family members or fictive kin with whom the child could be placed as opposed to placement in foster care, however, no such individuals could be found.”
“Reasonable efforts had been made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of these children from the Prado’s home … .”
In the court hearing, the caseworker could not describe any effort made by CPS to resolve the concerns without removing the child from the home.
In fact, her testimony confirmed that the only action CPS pursued was that of an “emergency.”
However, the “emergency” was allowed to go on for two weeks between the time the CPS worker put a business card on the family’s door and the time the child was removed—more than ample time for parents to be allowed to address the allegations without further traumatizing the child.
The court hearing testimony and behavior of the caseworker can only be described as strange or bizarre. On almost every question that could be answered with a “yes” or “no,” the caseworker would first look down and appeared to be shuffling through papers, looking for the answer.
Then she would look up at the CPS attorney who would be nodding her head in either a “yes” or a “no” movement. The caseworker would then answer accordingly.
Even though there was an exhaustive series of questions asked, the caseworker refused to answer why the first and only official action by CPS had to be an “emergency” order for removal.
The only thing close to an explanation the caseworker would give for refusing to tell the parents or their lawyer the allegations was that she was afraid the parents would run and hide.
It was also quite clear, to me, that the CPS caseworker’s ego led her to take it upon herself to pursue an “emergency” order to show the family’s lawyer that she was from the government and she could do anything to that family that she wanted to do.
Part 3: The Hospital/Doctor
In what can only be characterized as an extreme miscarriage of justice, the Texas Department of Child Protective Services (CPS) got an emergency court order in Kaufman County to remove a 4-year-old boy from his family.
On June 20, 2019, the 4-year-old was forcefully taken by CPS with the assistance of law enforcement. Following that, on July 2, 2019, a Kaufman County judge upheld the order.
The doctor from Children’s Hospital, who apparently initiated the process which resulted in the forceful removal of a 4-year-old boy from his family by CPS, had no history of treating the child, had never seen the child, never spoke with the parents, and did not even make a complete review of all of the child’s medical records before submitting an affidavit simply expressing some concerns about the child’s medical history.
CPS then used (perhaps “misused” is more appropriate) this affidavit to get an “emergency” court order to remove the child from his home and start the process of permanently terminating all parental rights.
There are several problems with the affidavit submitted and the testimony of the hospital doctor who was responsible for the initiation of this CPS action.
The first problem is that all of her statements about the child and parents are pure speculation. She never saw or spoke with either parent or the child before submitting the affidavit.
All the “concerns” she expressed in her affidavit were simply “concerns.” She presented no firsthand or even secondhand knowledge of any wrongdoing by either parent.
Also, she did not express any urgency for an “emergency” action, and she made no recommendation related to a need for CPS to remove the child from his family.
Some of the highlights of inconsistencies between the affidavit, testimony, and the conclusions intended to be used are:
- In her testimony, she questioned the decision made by the cerebral palsy doctor to provide a wheelchair for the child. Yet she admitted that she did not know and had not talked with that doctor. In paragraph 2 of her affidavit, she said, “I do not have access to the child’s records from the cerebral doctor.”
- The doctor discussed several medical issues, doctor visits, treatments, and medications the child has faced in his short four years. These include a brain surgery; before allowing it, the family got four second opinions from other doctors regarding the necessity of the surgery. He was also diagnosed, tested, and treated for many issues. These included autism, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, RSV viral lung infection, milk-protein allergy, cerebral palsy, and reflux. However, not all doctor-ordered treatments produced good results. According to the doctor’s seven-page affidavit, every medical diagnosis and treatment the child received was from a certified medical doctor. Yet under the medical findings on page four of the doctor’s affidavit, the doctor appears to criticize the mother by stating in Item 4, “. . . mother has expressed concerns for multiple problems over the years.” Wow. What loving, caring, and doting mother would not be “concerned” with so little progress being made by multiple doctors? But, the two big questions are:
- Why would CPS accept a sworn statement like this one when that doctor had never met nor talked with either parent or the child?
- Why would an allegedly impartial court system accept such a document as fact?
The only “significant” concern expressed by this doctor in her affidavit is directed at the competency of the other doctors, not at the parents.
In fact, almost all the “concerns” expressed by the doctor in her affidavit appear to be criticism of the previous doctor’s diagnosis and treatments.
On page 6, “Kaleb is a 4 yo male that is currently being seen by multiple doctors in the Dallas area. With much review, I have significant concerns about the accuracy of some of his diagnoses. I am very worried about medical abuse for this child.”
So, if this is truly her belief, why has she not reported these concerns to the Texas Medical Board for a malpractice investigation of the doctor for every procedure she questioned?
After all, it was the doctor, not the mother, that made the diagnosis and performed the procedure.
Even though there appeared to be some conflict in testimony between hospital doctor and the CASA representative, it was quite obvious that they had coordinated their testimony. They both used very similar words and scenarios to describe the child in the hospital.
However, one of them got their facts reversed on the issue of potty training. One said that “he only pooped in the toilet but he peed in his pull-ups,” while the other stated, “he only peed in the toilet but pooped in his pull-ups.”
Then, after the abduction but before the court hearing, the doctor did meet with the parents to discuss her concerns. It was noted by several people that attended the meeting, either in person or via telephone conferencing, that the doctor said her concerns had been answered and saw no reason for the child to remain in the hospital.
Why, then, does CPS insist on continuing to seek custody of the child and permanent termination of all parental rights?
These are just the highlights of the concerns with the doctor’s affidavit that began the persecution of this family.
In addition to the above, citizens should have serious concerns with the way that CPS and officers of the court twisted and misused her statements.
Next Article: Part 4 – “Was Justice or Injustice Served” will be a discussion of the role the court system played in assisting CPS in its mission to remove the child from its family.