Monday, April 16, 2012

False Accusations Rip Family Apart

MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2012

False Accusations Rip Family Apart

Much is said about child protective services, most of it negative. This is because we only seem to hear about the organization when it fails, when CPS fails to protect a child in danger or when it takes a child from a home when no abuse is present ruining the parents' reputations.

The O'Shells are just such a case. In 2008, their newborn was taken away from them after it was discovered she had several broken bones. The authorities suspected abuse and during a supervised visit when the little girl simply turned her head away from her parents, they felt their suspicions were vindicated.

A doctor, however, had other ideas. He suspected a rare genetic disorder and ordered tests. Unlike CPS, his suspicions turned out to be correct.

But the diagnosis did not come early enough for the O'Shells. The same day the doctor had his hunch, the little girl's parents died. Depressed and grieving he was being accused of beating his child, William O'Shell killed himself and his wife, Tiffany. A few months later baby Alyssa died of her disease. She was less than a year old.

Alyssa's grandparents are fighting for justice. No one believed the family when they said William was not abusive. Even his own attorney told him he would end up in prison and would loose everything that meant something to him -- his family, job and military status.

They aren't angry at child protective services but they believe a through investigation should have been conducted. It wasn't and a family is forever ruined by the accusations.

While we never hear about the cases when CPS did its job correctly, there are enough cases of when they do their job incorrectly make me think its employees need retrained. They need to be objective and remove children to foster care (or conversely keep them in their homes) based on concrete evidence not first impressions and personal feelings.

What do you think? Was CPS justified in the O'Shell case?