To Anyone Who Will Read,
I am in desperate need of help from someone, really anyone. I am the mother of a 7 year old girl, and I reside in Luzerne County Pennsylvania.
I am sure that you have heard of all the corruption in Luzerne County. There were arrests in the Kids for Cash scandal, and there have been arrests made for deals made for money in the county for contracts. What you have not heard about are the situations like mine, where normal everyday people are forced to deal with corruption, back door deals, lies, and people who will do nothing to help you, only hurt you. I have felt this on a personal level, and am desperate for help: not for me, but for my daughter. She is only seven, and cannot fight her own battles. I have tried for years to protect her, but the system we live in won't let me.
The ongoing ordeal my daughter has had to suffer is unbearable, and no one, let a lone a child should have to suffer what she has. As a direct result, she is currently receiving counseling and therapy. She has recently been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) by a psychiatrist. I'm sure you've heard of this condition affecting our military men returning from war.
My daughter has it at seven years old.
Here's our story:
From the time I was a little girl I knew that Luzerne County Children and Youth were bad news. My mother always filed false allegations of abuse with them and as a child I can remember having to sit through interviews. It was very hard as a small child to have to deal with something like that. Thankfully my wonderful father was a wonderful father and proved the allegations to be false and I was eventually left alone by my mother and Children and Youth. I still was not able to deal with what had happened to me for many, many years to come.
At the age of 18 I had a daughter of my own. Her father and I had only been dating for three months when I found out I was pregnant. The relationship went downhill from there and ended before I delivered my daughter on September 7th 2003.
For the first nine months of my daughter's life, her father had claimed that he was not the father. He eventually took responsibility and started to pay child support. During this time there were two calls that went to Children and Youth. The allegations were:
Referral date: 7/12/2004
Closed date: 8/09/2004
Allegations: Referral source reported child dirty, covered in cat hair, child has bite marks on her. Mother's home smells bad, no food in home, and child's bottles corroded with formula. Allegations not substantiated, no evidence of child abuse/neglect, case closed on intake level.
Referral date: 5/19/2005
Closed date: 6/02/2005
Allegations: Referral source reported mother is caring for a 10 month old child while his mother is away. Mother has drinking parties, home is filthy and there are alcohol bottles all over apartment. Electricity is going to be turned off. Mother drinks and drives with children in the car. Mother paramour drinks excessively and was recently arrested. Mother lets child visit with maternal grandparents who are inappropriate. Child is exposed to drugs and a gun. Allegations not substantiated, no evidence of Child abuse/neglect, case closed at intake level.
Referral Date: 7/09/2006
Close Date: 7/25/2006
Allegations: Referral source reported that mother's home is dirty. Allegations not substantiated, no evidence of child abuse/neglect, case closed at intake level.
Throughout the next few years my daughter's father came in and out of her life. There was court ordered therapy he never went to, visits he never picked her up for, activities she took part in that he never came to. During this time he met another girl and got her pregnant.
Then December 25th 2006, he decided he was going to break into my home and try to take my daughter. He forced my daughter and I to stay in the house and blocked us from leaving. After I was finally able to get my daughter out safely I had to yell for a neighbor to take her away from me because her father kept trying to pull her off of me. Finally the police arrived and he was forced to leave. I had to take my daughter to the local Emergency Room for marks and pain on her back due to her father grabbing onto her and pulling. That day another call went into Children and Youth of Luzerne County.
Referral date: 12/25/2006
Close date: 01/11/07
Allegation: Referral source reported mother refused to allow child to visit with father. Mother was holding child and striking individual. Police were at the home. Allegations not substantiated, no evidence of child abuse/neglect, case closed at intake level.
After this I filed for a PFA on behalf of myself and my daughter so that her father could not abuse us. Also, I had it added in the custody order that no physical discipline is allowed to be used on my daughter. I had also reached out to Luzerne County Children and Youth for help. They blew me off and told me that unless my daughter was severely beaten there was nothing that could be done.
The PFA lasted for one year. After that things were pretty quiet. My daughter father had found a new girlfriend and was happy not bothering me or my daughter. Then he got his new girlfriend pregnant. After the child was born they were married. That's when everything went to hell again.
January 18th 2009, my daughter was dropped off by her father's mother and his wife from a weekend visit with all of her hair cut off. I was visibly upset about her hair being cut and started to cry. The next thing I know I have a police officer knocking at my door. He was there to do a welfare check on my daughter. Her father's mother and wife sat outside my house for 45 minutes and called the police and said I was screaming and yelling and that they feared for the safety of my daughter. When I let the officer in he was able to see that my daughter was calm and that I was slightly upset about her hair. Also he wrote that in his incident report. The next day was the call to Children and Youth.
Referral Date: 1/19/2009
Close date: 1/30/2009
Allegations: Referral source reported that mother locks child in closet and hits child. Allegations not substantiated, no evidence of child abuse/neglect, case closed at intake level.
From here things just get worse. My daughter's father and wife called Children and Youth all the time, and kept cutting my child's hair. Month after month my child was forced to go through this over and over again. The only difference is when they decided that they were going to call Childline instead of Children and Youth. Childline is Children and Youth but it's a numbered report instead of just a call and the paperwork is a bit different. Also Childline reports stay on my record for 1 year.
Date of Oral Report: 2/15/2009
Allegations: The child has bruises on her right arm and both legs. The child initially stated she didn't know how she got the bruises, then stated AP hit her.
Case Status: CPS interviewed the child,AP, and the child's dad. The child was interviewed on separate occasions and her story was inconsistent. The child initially stated she did not know how the bruises happened. When questioned the child stated the was trying the best she can to answer. The child's story was not credible. The child stated she thought maybe the AP hit her but could not remember. The child had small, faint bruises to her arm and legs and denied severe pain or impairment. The child denied being fearful of the AP. This case is unfounded as per CPS law Act 151 due to the above.
Date completed: 3/13/2009
I was informed by telephone that I would not be getting my daughter back. I called to speak with a supervisor and I was told that if I went to pick up my child I would have to deal with them the rest of my life and that I would be subjected to intrusive tests and that they would consider me picking her up being an unfit mother and would go to a judge to take her away from me. I was too scared to do anything. During that call Luzerne County Children and Youth had broken my court order and kept my child at her father's house for days until they spoke with her at her school. They forced me to sign a paper and I was told that I would not get her back if I did not sign. They did not bother with getting any type of court order, or even involving a judge. Also on February 19th 2009, a police report was filed by my daughter father stating that I had created Child Pornography on a cell phone that he had stolen from my daughter. The police closed the case and there was never anything founded to these allegations.
The next call happened the next weekend she was at her father after the Jan 19th case was closed.
Date of Oral Report: 3/28/2009
Allegations: The RS stated the child has a bruise on the front of her right shoulder, next to her collar bone. The child reported she got the bruise from the AP grabbing her.
Case Status: The caseworker interviewed the AP, and alleged victim. The alleged victim was observed to have a small circular bruise on her shoulder. The alleged victim denied severe pain or impairment. The alleged victim was consistent in her explanation of the injury. The AP reported the alleged victim ran into a stairway banister while playing. This case is unfounded as per CPS law Act 151 due to the above.
Date completed: 4/24/2009
This call was again made during a weekend. These reports fail to mention how an on-call worker first went and spoke to my child. It also fails to mention that I was called and told that my daughter would not be coming home yet again and hung up on quite a few times. Luzerne County Children and Youth again broke my court order and kept my child at her father's until she went back to school the following Monday. That Monday I went to Children and Youth and sat there until someone would talk to me. I was then informed that they did not yet have the paperwork from the weekend and that they had no idea what was going on. I told them I had a court order and that I would be picking my child up from school that day. They then found the paperwork and interviewed my child at her school. That day I was told that I much stay supervised at all time but that I did not have an open case. I had to have my dad and my friends cleared so that I could be watched. For months my life stayed this way, even with the case being close unfounded. I tried to speak with the caseworker and her supervisor but I was told to stay supervised. This supervision put me at risk for getting evicted from my apartment. My lease stated that I could not have anyone stay at my house for more than 14 days out of the year. I was going on over 2 months.
Then the next call came in. It was Fourth of July weekend and her father had her. He was court ordered to bring her home to me for the fireworks.
Date of Oral Report: 7/5/2009 (but it was the 3rd)
Allegations: The RS reported the child has a fingerprint mark on her left arm. The RS stated the alleged victim reported the AP caused the bruise.
Case Status: The caseworker interviewed the alleged victim, AP, RS, and step-mother. The RS was unaware of the bruise. The alleged victim was unaware of the bruise on her arm. The alleged victim denied pain and/or impairment. The AP denied causing any bruises to the alleged victim. Under CPS Act 151, the case is UNFOUNDED.
Date Completed: 7/14/2009
During this interview the caseworker had called the supervisor and put an end to the supervision.
The next call was shortly there after.
Date of Oral Report: 8/15/2009
Allegations: The RS stated the alleged victim reported the AP scratched her intentionally.
Case Status: The case worker interviewed the alleged victim and AP. The alleged victim reported, Someone told me to say bad things about Mommy The alleged victim also stated her natural father and step-mother told her to tell this caseworker about the scratches and bruises. The alleged victim stated Mommy doesn't hurt me The alleged victim showed this caseworker where the alleged scratch was at; no scratches or mark were observed. The AP denied the incident. This case is unfounded as per CPS law Act 151 due to the above.
Date completed: 8/21/2009
After this call I really thought that maybe it would all stop. Sadly it didn't. I had to send my daughter to her father's for a week of summer vacation.
Date of Oral Report: 8/25/2009
Allegations: The child has bruises on both arms. The RS reported the child stated the AP grabbed both of her arms, leaving bruises.
Case Status: The caseworker interviewed the AP and alleged victim. The alleged victim reported sometimes getting confused so she was told what to say. The alleged victim was inconsistent with reporting the incident. The AP denied using physical discipline or causing harm to the alleged victim. This case is unfounded as per CPS law Act 151 due to the above.
Date Completed: 9/22/2009
This call is the one that Luzerne County Children and Youth set them up for. Two hours prior to my daughter leaving with her father I had taken her to Children and Youth to be looked at. Pictures were taken and there wasn't a bruise on her. The casework had received the call and asked the father to take child to a doctor. He did. He also lied to the doctor about custody and apparently there was a bruise on her 5 days after she left my house without a mark.
The last call to date was by far the worst. During all these call I had decided to put my child in therapy. Well my daughter's father and his wife took my daughter to her therapist behind my back and forced her to lie. Therefore another call was made.
There are two parts to this call.
Date of Oral Report: 2/5/2010
Allegations: The RS reported the AP hit the child's mouth and spanked her bottom. The RS stated the child reported the AP cut her with a piece of glass. It was also reported the child had a swollen lip at one time.
Case Status: The caseworked interviewed the child, AP, natural father, and step-mother. The child was not consistent or credible in her statements reguarding the alleged incidents of abuse. The caseworker did not observe any marks, bruises, or injuried on the child. The AP denied hitting, spanking, and cutting the child with glass. The AP denied using physical discipline. This case is unfounded as per CPS law Act 151 based on the above.
Date Completed: 3/4/2010
Along with the Childline numbered report, there was also a report through Children and Youth of Luzerne County.
Referral Date: 2/5/2010
Close Date: 3/4/2010
Allegations: Referral source reported that mother hits child and spanks child. Mother cut child with a piece of glass. Someone of the same age of child touched the child in her vaginal area. Mother and child slept in car in winter. Mother uses pills. Case unfounded, allegations not substantiated, no evidence of child abuse/neglect, case closed at intake level.
When my daughter was seeing a therapist her father refused to go without his wife. The only time they went was to tell lies about me. Out of two years they had made 5 one hours appointments. My daughter's therapist apparently fell for the lies and did nothing to help my child. I had asked for a psychological evaluation and an appointment was made. I took my daughter there for the appointment and when we got there I was told that the psychologist no longer worked there. I had asked for another appointment with someone else and it never happened.
Throughout all of these calls, my child has been stripped down by strangers, had pictures taken of her, and questioned by people she doesn't know over and over again. Luzerne County Children and Youth did nothing to stop this from happening. Caseworkers have come to her home, her school,(which is a tiny catholic school, so everyone is well aware of the situation), her father's house, and I have been forced to take her to the agency itself.
Not only did Children and Youth do nothing, neither did any of the court systems in Luzerne County. I tried to press harassment charges and I was told it was a custody problem. I filed for a custody hearing and was told it was a contempt hearing. I managed to get a lawyer to represent me free of charge and I was told that nothing could be done in a hearing for contempt because it was not written out in my current court order that harassing calls to Children and Youth could not be made. At the contempt hearing, there was an agreement made with the lawyers. Since then, the opposing lawyer decided he wanted to change the agreement, then used it against me in court that I wouldn't sign off on his agreement. He changed just about everything I had in my agreement then expected me to go with what he wanted. Since then my pro-Bono lawyer has dumped me.
My daughter who is seven years old has suffered so much through this. Her father and step-mother have threatened her with sending her to kiddie jail and death. They have said that she will no longer be living with me or going to her school. Her step mother has been abusive in other ways also. She has broken dishes in front of my child's face and forced my child to eat food off the floor, the step-mother hits her own child in front of my daughter, and refuses to allow my child to have a phone to call for help.
I filed for a protection from abuse petition and had a hearing on October 19th 2010. It was continued to November 4th 2010 so that my seven year old daughter could state that her step-mother is abusive to her. During this hearing, the Judge Saxton (who in 2009 did not do his job and allowed a mother of three to be shot and killed by her abuser) would not even let me speak about the abuse. My daughter who was nervous was expected to talk in open court in front of her abuser. I was not able to speak with her to ask any questions because the judge did not think it was appropriate. The hearing lasted about thirty seconds before it was dismissed. I was also told by the judge that I needed a lawyer. I tried to go through legal aid but was not able to because it was a conflict of interest.
I was just informed that my daughter's father has filed for primary custody of my daughter. The same daughter that he did nothing to comfort after the PFA hearing. The same daughter that he has caused so much trauma that she is suffering with PTSD. I'll know on Tuesday if he requests a trial at the Master's Hearing I had asked for to have it in the order that school comes first.
In all of the court hearings, I was never able to state my case, or provide my evidence. I was never able to state facts such as all of the calls to Children and Youth, or the fact the Step-mother has plead guilty to a felony charge of welfare fraud, or even the fact that she has lied to the court on paperwork to get out of paying costs.
I have been simply ignored, or looked at like I was crazy. No one wants to do anything to help me or my child. They want to keep us wrapped up in the system for as long as they possibly can. My daughter was given a guardian at litem who spoke to her once in two years. I have left messages for him over and over again, stopped by his office and left notes and tried my best to get a hold of him. It's next to impossible, even though out all of these allegations.
Also I'm going up against their lawyer CJ Buffilino. He has even filed court papers just to withdraw them the day of a court hearing to harass and scare me. Children and Youth refuse to do anything to help me or my child. Then again they have been corrupt since before I was born. They have a federal case being filed against them the last I heard.
My child now has a diagnosis' of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She now needs serious help.
If the courts, Children and Youth the original therapist,or her so called Guardian at litem did their job of protecting my child then this would have never gotten this bad. Yet still to this day I have been threatened with court, and told police reports would be filed.
The last few years of my life have been a living hell. My daughter has been though more than anyone can imagine. No human being should ever have to live through this. No agency should be allowed to do this, and every court should be held responsible for their actions.
I have followed every court order perfectly. The only mistake I made was sending my child for help at an agency that was not competent enough to deal with the situation and provide the therapy she needed. Also I made the mistake of being honest with her therapist who ended up taking my words and twisting them.
My little girl who loves talking on the phone, and playing tea party, and who's favorite color changes almost daily has had her childhood taken away from her. She has lost so much in school and life in general. No child should every have to suffer though this. Something has to be done and it has to be done quickly. Also no parent should ever have to suffer though any of this. Not only is someone being accused of something that didn't happen they also have to watch their child go though it without being able to do anything. As a parent, you no longer have any rights once Luzerne County Children and Youth become involved.
Sadly, even with post traumatic stress disorder, I must still send my child to her father's house. I still must allow her around her abusive step-mother. She still has to go where she does not want to go. This is not healthy for her in any way, shape, or form.
Luzerne County is corrupt. Yes, a few judges were arrested, and that is wonderful for the people they hurt and for the people they could have hurt. What about the rest of the county? What about the agencies? What about lawyers, and other judges? Why is the judge that is making a decision about my PFA even able to make this decision when he didn't do his job in the past and a woman was killed because of it? Why is it that the lawyer that just went to court with me decided that it was okay to just change a court order and send it to the opposing lawyer without even talking to me first? Why is it when I disagree with this order, she tells me she won't represent me anymore? Why is it that the FBI comes in and takes care of a couple things and then just leaves? Did they do it because they had to make themselves look good or because they really wanted to help? If it was because they really wanted to help then they have a lot more to get done.
I just simply can't understand how something like this could even happen. What confuses me even more is how it can happen over and over again and I have no options. Right now I'm so afraid of what will happen in the future; that I'm even debating on if this letter is worth the trouble it will cause. On the other hand, I don't want the suffering that my daughter and I have gone through, to have meant nothing. I want to try to prevent this from ever happening to anyone else. There needs to be some kind of punishment for actions like this, or some preventive measure made to protect children and parents. I wasn't able to stop this from happening to my daughter, but maybe if this gets out there I might be able to prevent it from happening to someone else's child. No human deserves to have to deal with this.
I have no idea if anyone who reads this is even going to care but it was worth a shot. Thank you very much for taking the time to listen to my story. There are of course so many more stories and details but I'm pretty sure this gets the point across.