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Friday, March 13, 2015

Ind. Courts - "Prosecutors won't seek charges against DCS, Damar in young woman's death"

Marisa Kwiatkowski has the story this afternoon in the Indianapolis Star. The subhead: "A Department of Child Services employee and two Damar Services workers visited an Indianapolis home six days before a paralyzed young woman died but did not report concerns about her well-being." Some quotes from the sad story:

Marion County prosecutors will not pursue criminal charges against the Department of Child Services employee and Damar Services workers who visited an Indianapolis home six days before a young woman died yet did not report concerns about her well-being, a spokeswoman said.

Linda Kelley died Aug. 4 in a filthy, cluttered home with blackened bedsores covering much of her lower body. Some were so deep they exposed the 18-year-old's bone and organs.

On the day she died, her parents' house was littered with dog feces, cigarette butts, trash bags, soiled adult diapers, empty pop cans and other items. Bugs crawled on the refrigerator.

In September, after seeing pictures of Linda and the home, Marion Juvenile Court Judge Marilyn Moores said she could not understand how the workers visiting only six days earlier could submit positive reports on the conditions there.

Two DCS employees were fired for failing to protect Linda, who had entered the DCS system as a child and turned 18 shortly before her death. DCS officials also canceled the agency's home services contract with Damar, citing "termination for endangering life, health or safety of any person."

But those employees' conduct did not constitute a crime, said Peg McLeish, spokeswoman for the Marion County prosecutor's office.

"We were not presented with information that would rise to the level of criminal charges against DCS or Damar Services employees," McLeish said in an email. "The parents had the actual physical custody and care of Linda." * * *

Linda Thatcher, who teaches students with significant disabilities in Indianapolis Public Schools, said she and others in the district repeatedly expressed concern about Linda's well-being to officials with DCS and Damar Services. She said they filed multiple reports in the two years before Linda's death, but officials wouldn't listen.

"We knew it was ungodly," Thatcher said.

The ILB asked Prof. Schumm about the decision:
I'm a little surprised by the conclusion that there was not probable cause to pursue any charges, even a violation of the duty to report child abuse under Indiana Code section 31-33-5-1. One would think that a DCS employee would be held to at least as high of a standard as the principal in Smith.
Christopher Smith v. State of Indiana was a 2014 opinion of the Supreme Court.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 13, 2015 02:06 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts