Documentation of The Demonstration of Love

January 28, 2013

By Attorney David Engler

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Yesterday, an ICU physician gave me the concept of “The Documentation of The Demonstration of Love.” It is a beautiful concept and especially useful when trying to determine at the end of life, who is truly acting as the next of kin.

This came up because I am litigating a case for two adult daughters and adult son-in-law who were taking care of their father at the end of his life. To their shock, Adult Protective Services jumped in without a court order and took the ailing father off to live with a longtime “lady-friend.” The father, completely incompetent because of long term COPD, told APS and hospice that he wanted to go back to a friend’s home outside of the county.  The man was being loved by his only daughters and son-in-law as well as his grandchildren.  The government brought in a local police officer and literally strapped the dying man to a stretcher and carted him away.  The scene was emotionally charged as Father and Grandpa was being loaded into the back of an ambulance.  They would never see him again.  He would die two months later, but not before the lady-friend changed the life insurance, power of attorney and will.

Is there a value for losing the presence of your dying parent for the last two months of his life? How do you measure the loss of ability to provide loving care for your dying parent? Maybe the better question is, whether a value can be placed on this sacred time.

But, back to the Doctor’s comments about “The Documentation of The Demonstration of Love.” His thought was brilliant.  Just being related by blood. as opposed to friendship, does not mean your loss of time with a dying person has value.  The physician who sees life and death on a daily basis had a keen intuition as to the relationship between the patient and those who have come to be near at the moment of death.  Some might be there looking at their smartphone in the lobby dealing with the guilt of not having been there enough for Mom. There is the family member who is counting down the minutes to inheritance, big or small.  They are there to make sure the troublesome sibling isn’t getting one over.  There are those who are inconvenienced by the process of death.  Imagine the mind of the Doctor whose sole interest is the patient. He is looking for the Documentation of the Demonstration of Love.  Was the family member at the rehab center every day?  Was Mom’s hair brushed by her daughter no matter what meanness came out of the Mother’s mouth controlled by a progressing dementia? Did the family turn their family room into a hospital room?  Was money spent? Are there pictures of smiles and a hand being held?  Or was the grieving “lady-friend,” twenty years his junior, constantly on the receiving end of money from the older man? Were his clothes clean?

Now, the government agency should never have come in and taken a dying elderly man from his only daughters without some court order. It was a screw up when it happened and that is why we have a lawsuit. But having a legal point is not the same as proving the damage that comes from not being their when your Dad is dying.  We have to dig deeper.  We need proof to show; where was the love?

And as we go through life, maybe it’s not a bad idea to live as if you were preparing for a jury trial.  One day there will be a judgment day and someone will ask to see the documentation of the demonstration of love. If it is important to you that you be seen as having loved, then make sure your life is filled with proof.  Did you leave a smile? Did you sacrifice your time? Did you do the tasks that were difficult; like changing a soiled sheet or holding a person’s hair back when they were sick? Did you bring gifts? Did you send cards? If we live our lives knowing that we will be asked to document our love then we will live in peace with our self and the ultimate finder of fact. 


Director Schaffner Wants Sex Abuse Victims To Hide!

September 29, 2012

By Attorney David Engler

This week I stood in the parking lot of Trumbull County Children Services with two brave young women. We were very close to the spot where they were sexually molested as 12 and 13 year olds. It took so much courage for them to get in the car with me and drive to a group of awaiting cameras including their old caseworker who stood outside during his work day filming the young women. The two recounted how they were preyed upon by a Youth Leader woman that was hired to protect them while at children services. This Dorm Mother actually would take overtime so she could sleep with one of the three girls during the night.

There were three girls age 12, 12 and 13 when the sexual abuse first started.

Image credit:  123RF Stock Photo

 

They each were left into the care of the Government because their own homes were broken, parents were addicts or a father was a molester.  Each of their lives had not been easy but they have overcome extreme cruelty to become good mothers, daughters, friends and employees.  Each of the three have given me more inspiration then what I could possibly gain from representing them.

The cruelest comment, after we announced a lawsuit against CSB for employing a pedophile, came from the Director Tim Schaffner.  His response to finding out that three preteens  were sexually abused by an employee was shocking. He said he was appalled that Attorney Engler would expose these girls. I have encountered many tone-deaf Government types in my 26 years of practice but this is the worse. Instead of expressing outrage that the abuse happened, or expressing concern for the girls, or being troubled… he was appalled that the girls would dare show their sweet faces This guy is running an agency that is supposed to protect children. These girls are heroes for giving a face to childhood sexual abuse. If you’re a victim you do not have to hide in a closet. The shame is not the victims but the pedophile and the agency that employed her and did nothing to stop her and protect young girls who could not have been more vulnerable.

Since I have first stepped up to take on the agency that permitted a known pedophile to rape a baby at its own office, I have been swamped with the calls of victims or parents or grandparents who are suffering at the indifferent hands of Trumbull CSB and others throughout the State. Others have joined the fight with the notable exception of no elected officials or judges who place kids into CSB. I cannot figure out how many murdered or abused children it takes before someone in power cares to act.  I suppose this is the same sort of thing that happened at Penn State. 

As an attorney we are taught to stay dispassionate from our clients in the course of litigation. I am shaking with anger. My clients are each beautiful, intelligent, caring young African-American women. They needed good foster parents to have taken them out the CSB hell they were placed into. But the reality is people want babies not young teens. I told each of these girls that I would have been proud to have been their father. I am not sure I could be a foster parent now but wish I had known these girls when they were 12.  There are other children out there.  They are victims of all sorts of terrible things. It is so sad that they had to be insulted and victimized one more time by a Director who believes victims of abuse should hide their faces. Shame on you Director Schaffner.

Attorney David Engler

Phone: 330-729-9777

http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website

Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal


KEEPING JAMES BROWN’S DRUMMER OUT OF JAIL. ONE TIME Y’All

August 21, 2012

By Attorney David Engler

Michael Georgiadis was a brand new puppy lawyer in Trumbull County back in the early 80′s. Like most new lawyers he cut his teeth on getting court appointments.  Every person has a right to lawyer and one will be appointed to them if they cannot afford to pay a lawyer.  It is a constitutional right.

Attorney Georgiadis who has now been practicing for 30 years told me the story of his early brush with celebrity criminal law. Judge Bernard sat on the Girard Municipal Bench and it was clearly his court.  No one dared challenge him for the position or his son who followed in his footsteps.  Some people were born to be Judges precisely because they never judged anyone until they had heard the facts, considered the law and then most importantly applied their well-earned common sense.  If you asked prosecutor and defense attorney alike who their favorite Judge would be; the Bernard father and son will always be at the top.

Attorney Georgiadis, skinny as a rail, meets his new client.  The Defendant, a black man in his late 50′s is accused of stealing from a K-Mart some merchandise that could be easily converted into cash.  He got caught red-handed. Mr. Jones had been down on his luck, he told his new court appointed attorney in court that morning. He  needed some cash to catch a bus back to Detroit or maybe it was for a fifth.  Detroit where was he had made his way to standing almost in the ray of fame of his band leader, the one and only Godfather of Soul,  Mr. James Brown.  Jones was the Godfather’s  drummer.  Of course Jones did not carry a certificate with him to prove his claim and the young lawyer had no way of knowing if this were true, but Jones had a quality of celebrity to him even if his clothes were ten years too old and alcohol and drug use had etched his face into that of a much older man.

The Great Judge Bernard presided in a court the sat on the second floor of Girard City Hall. It was cramped and normally hot at all times the year. It had a fake wood panelling that made you think you were in someone’s rec room.  The prosecutor’s office looked like a closet and was a place where justice needed to be dealt quicker than 5 card stud because everyone had someplace else they needed to be.

The case of State v. Jones is called and up comes Attorney Georgaidis and his maybe one time famous client, Jones. “What do you want to do Counselor?” asked the Judge. After a few stumbles about burden of proof and whether Jones actually made it out of the store with the goods…Georgiadis says to the Court, “Well really your honor my client simply wants to get back to Detroit and try to resume his career where he was the drummer for James Brown.  “Really”, says the Judge. “Is that true Mr. Jones?”  At that little encouragement Jones grabs two pencils from the bailiff’s desk which sat to the right of the judge’s Bench but somewhat lower and he proceeded to perform a rather nice drum solo on the judge’s Bench moving down to the right.  Once he got to the corner of the Bench and the Jury Box he gave a slick spin with pencils in hand then continued the beat down the entire length of the wood rail in front of the then empty jury box.  When he got to the final post he finished with a flourish, gave a final spin then went into a deep leg split.  The deputies, other defendants waiting with their attorneys , court clerks and the Judge gave a well-earned applause.

“That is enough for me”, said the Judge.  “I will find you guilty of the charge of theft but suspend all jail and fines and order you to return to Detroit at once”. “But you honor… thank you but I don’t have any money for the bus ride.” At that Judge Bernard reached into his pocket and pulled out a twenty and ordered the prosecutor and the young defense lawyer to do the same.  “Son”, the Judge said to Attorney Georgiadis “take this man to the bus stop and buy him a ticket to Detroit”.  Attorney Georgiadis dutifully complied and once at the bus stop, bought the ticket and gave Jones the extra change. “Thanks” said Jones, “Stay real.”

That night Georgidis’ young wife asked if he made any money today.  Michael said “No it actually cost me $20 but the Godfather of Soul has his beat back.”

Attorney David Engler

Phone: 330-729-9777

http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website

Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal


Failure of Children Service Agencies is Epidemic

July 29, 2012

By Attorney David Engler

Private placement agencies if not monitored well by Children Service Boards can end in tragedy. In Trumbull County, Ohio there have been at least 5 murders of children who were either directly through foster placement or indirectly through custody orders placed with the abuser.

In Fairfield County, Ohio a 5 year old boy was made to stand out in the rain and cold as a punishment. The boy was taken by ambulance to ER after going into cardiac arrest. He has permanent neurological damage.  A private agency working under the County made the placement.  The agency did not inquire as to why the foster parents had been denied a license in Hamilton County, Ohio.

The failure of Children Protective Service agencies is an epidemic.

The New York Times reported earlier this year reported about the wide spread abuse in the City. I am quoting it in its near entirety.

The New York Times -

“Lawyers for 10 disabled children who were fraudulently adopted by a Queens woman more than 15 years ago and subjected to years of abuse have proposed a $68 million settlement in a civil rights lawsuit filed on their clients’ behalf, according to a confidential court filing.”

Matthew Ratajczak/Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers,

“The proposal comes as a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn appears to be trying to mediate a settlement to the suit, filed in 2009, which seeks damages from New York City and three contract adoption agencies that placed the children with the woman, Judith Leekin.

Serial Abuser for Foster Money

The case has been seen as one of the most disturbing child welfare fraud cases in the city in recent years. Ms. Leekin used four aliases to adopt the children, who had physical or developmental disabilities, including autism and retardation, and later moved them to Florida. The children were caged, restrained with plastic ties and handcuffs, beaten with sticks and hangers, and kept out of school, according to court papers. An 11th child disappeared while in Ms. Leekin’s care and is presumed dead.

The suit asks that the 10 plaintiffs, now mostly in their 20s, be compensated for their years of suffering as well as for the services and treatment they will need for the rest of their lives.

The letter was filed publicly in October, but was quickly sealed after the lawyer wrote that it “referred to confidential discussions between the parties.” The New York Times obtained the letter while it was publicly available.

Ms. Leekin, 66, was imprisoned after she was convicted of fraud in federal court in Manhattan and of abuse in a state court in Florida. Federal prosecutors have said that as part of her scheme, she collected $1.68 million in subsidies from the city that went to support a lavish lifestyle.

When the 10 children were removed from her care in 2007, none had completed elementary school; only three could read and only at a third-grade level; and about half were declared either “totally incapacitated” or “vulnerable adults,” according to a report by a former Columbia University social work professor retained by the plaintiffs to examine the cases.

The 10 have since lived in Florida in state programs or on their own, and at least one is homeless, according to court filings.

New York City and the three private agencies have denied liability in the case, claiming that Ms. Leekin was a sophisticated serial criminal whose scheme fooled various professionals and, given the capabilities and practices of the time, would not have been foreseen or detected.

The agencies are HeartShare Human Services of New York, SCO Family of Services and the now-closed St. Joseph Services for Children and Families.

The agencies’ lawyer, Robert S. Delmond, did not respond to messages seeking a comment on Thursday. Lawyers for the city and the plaintiffs declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

In the now-sealed letter to Judge Go, Mr. Delmond described the $68 million demand as “a significant sum, which requires much consideration, thought, planning and involvement of corporate officers before they can reach a decision.” The agencies’ insurance carrier was reviewing the matter, he noted, and was “not prepared to make a settlement offer at this time.”

He requested more time to allow for further consultations with the insurer and meetings to discuss “possible settlement offers.”

It is unclear how the city and the private agencies might apportion any payout if a settlement is reached.

Jonathan S. Abady, a lawyer whose firm, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, has handled suits against the city and private agencies in cases involving abused and neglected children, said “there does appear to be a uniform indemnification provision” in the contracts the city has with such agencies.

“But the city has the ultimate legal responsibility for the child,” said Mr. Abady, whose firm is not involved in the Leekin suit.

In August, Theodore Babbitt, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, asked Judge Go to move the case forward because of the “fragile, unstable and precarious” condition of the plaintiffs. “They are desperate for care that cannot be provided through the Florida state system,” he wrote.

He cited three of the male plaintiffs, who ranged in age from 19 to 24: one had been on a round-the-clock suicide watch after multiple attempts to take his own life. Another had fathered children out of wedlock and was homeless. A third had been arrested for domestic violence against his older brother. “He is angry and depressed and bottles it up inside until he violently explodes,” Mr. Babbitt wrote.”

ifference towards the sexual abuse of children by men in leadership positions does not seem to be isolated only in Happy Valley.

Attorney David Engler

Phone: 330-729-9777 http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

Also published on Family Fault Lines Blog http://familyfaultlines.com/

Also published on eGuardianship Blog https://eguardianship.wordpress.com/


If Only Trumbull County Leaders Would Be As Accountable as PennState Trustees!

July 16, 2012

By Attorney David Engler


The Louis J. Freeh report came out this week regarding the callous indifference shown by men in leadership at Penn State University towards child victims of sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky.  Judge Freeh was the former head of the F.B.I. and a federal judge.  This Board of Trustees had requested a full throttled examination of the scandal, no matter how damaging.

 

One commentator stated the essence of the report was that Joe Paterno, the University President and Vice President all allowed Jerry Sandusky, a pedophile, on campus and bestowed upon him the gifts from which he would lure more young boys into his sick world.  We now know that Sandusky will be in jail for life and undoubtedly in hell thereafter.

 

I had stated when the scandal first broke that Paterno should be fired immediately. Now his reputation and legacy will be that he put the importance of the football program over the safety of children.  The others lost their jobs and at least one faces perjury charges.

 

Compare the Sandusky scandal to the one in Trumbull County, Ohio.  The case is remarkably similar: There, inside the Trumbull County Children Services facility, a pedophile named Cody Beemer was allowed lengthy, private, closed-door access to his 9 month old infant victim! Even though Trumbulls CSA was in possession of a Court Order prohibiting any such contact by the known pedophile, the staff at the CSA simply ignored the order. They also ignored what was going on behind that closed door, they never saw the pedophile rape an innocent child. He raped a 9 month old baby who had been placed into the CSAs protection specifically to prevent this type of attack. What exposed his heinous actions were his own cell phone. Left at the babys grandmothers house, she discovered the video he had taken with his phone of his actions inside the closed room in The Children Services Agency. He had plenty of time to create a sick movie of his rape of his own infant child and was monstrous enough to do so. Thankfully one human being stood tall, the Grandmother who promptly delivered the cell phone to the Police, who finally took appropriate action.  As I said, the Court acknowledges in their Order that the child should be protected and that no unsupervised visitation should ever take place. Both the Court and Childrens Services knew Cody Beemer. Not only would he come to sexually molest his own baby daughter, he also engaged in the sexual molestation of another infant outside the agency and will likely serve a life sentence for his crimes. But they also knew that Cody Beemer had previously raped his 3 year old sister.

 

Pedophilia has no cure.  He was not in any treatment. He was not chemically or physically castrated.  He was an immediate and present danger and CSB knew it. They put the baby rapist in a room without any supervision.  Why was he even allowed to be there? The State of Ohio’s investigation of Trumbulls CSA was beyond obvious:the CSA should improve their risk assessment. Really? The Commissioners, unlike the Penn State Board of Trustees, have said nothing. The Sheriff said nothing.  The County Prosecutor belatedly brought in the State to conduct an investigation.  This request was made well before the P.S.U. Scandal.  No response. When the State investigated it was discovered that the records were not only incomplete but in the end one supervisor got two weeks off, during the holidays for fudging visitation records. That is all that has happened.

 

A board member and high ranking County law enforcement official said the event was unforeseeable. Let me make this final analogy.  What would happen if a ten year old boy was put in a cell with Jerry Sandusky or any other pedophile behind bars? Are the leaders of Trumbull County so naive to think that a pedophile cares where they are at?  Most of the rapes occur with known family members or people in a position of trust.

 

Penn State stated this week that the Freeh Report was the first step toward creating a culture of transparency and accountability. Sadly for Trumbull County it appears that allowing a pedophile to have free access to victims on its property is not such a big deal. As Commissioner Frank Fuda told me once “these sort of things happen to kids in Children Services” (I was telling him about the insane number of murdered children in Trumbull County over the last ten years)

 

Callous indifference towards the sexual abuse of children by men in leadership positions does not seem to be isolated only in Happy Valley.

 

Attorney David Engler

Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

Also published on Family Fault Lines Blog http://familyfaultlines.com/



Another toddler foster child is killed….

July 9, 2012

By Attorney David Engler

Another toddler was killed in a foster home, this time in Maryland. 

The two year old girl was beaten to death by the 12 year old son of the foster parents. 

Public child welfare agencies are the only ones who don’t see that our delivery system of child protection services is largely broken. They hide from scrutiny by cloaking themselves in rules of confidentiality.

Of the families I have represented the thread is common. They are usually poor, uneducated and unable to ask questions.  Perhaps that is why their children end up in children services care.

But once government gets involved, then it becomes our business and the death of one child who was given to an agency that was meant to protect should cause an immediate and open review and call for changing the bureaucratically bloated child protection system. 

Below is today’s editorial from the Washington Post.  It could have been written in all but a handful of states like Virginia, Kansas and Florida that have overhauled children protective services.

WHEN WELFARE authorities remove a child from the home, it is supposed to be for the child’s safety. It is simply unthinkable that a 2-year-old girl in Prince George’s County who was taken from her mother’s custody was beaten to death while in the care of a foster family. Not only must there be a thorough review by county and state authorities, but it’s important that circumstances of the case — including a determination of whether the tragedy could have been prevented — be made public.

Aniyah Batchelor, who turned 2 in March, died Tuesday of “blunt force trauma,” according to Prince George’s police, who said she was beaten inside her foster parents’ home in Fort Washington. A 12-year-old boy, son of the unnamed foster parents, was charged with second-degree murder. Police allege that the boy had “beaten the child repeatedly’’ in a single attack; no weapon was used. It appears that the parents were away and their 15-year-old daughter was sleeping.

When a foster child is killed confidentiality is no excuse for concealing what happened and why.

The toddler had been in foster care since November. “Our hearts go out to the families involved. Both families and the staff that worked with them will need our support in the coming days,” read a statement issued by the Maryland Department of Human Resources, parent agency for the Prince George’s County Social Services Department, which handled the child’s placement. There is no doubting the need for sympathy, but officials also must provide a better explanation of the actions taken in this case.

Predictably, they have chosen to hide behind a supposed need for confidentiality and privacy even as state spokesman Pat Hines acknowledged that the state can discuss some details about a child in foster care if there is “an allegation of abuse and neglect” resulting in a death. Incredibly, state legal authorities concluded that that exemption doesn’t apply to Aniyah’s case.

Perhaps this was a tragedy that could not be foreseen; maybe it occurred despite best and correct efforts. But there are unanswered questions. Was the foster home properly screened? Were the parents trained? Had there been any signs of trouble? Were there alternatives that would have allowed Aniyah to avoid foster care? The public, the 6,859 Maryland families with children in foster care and, above all, this little girl’s mother need more than expressions of sorrow. They deserve answers.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

Also published on Family Fault Lines Blog http://familyfaultlines.com/


How Hard Can You Beat a Man You Find Molesting Your Defenseless 5 Year Old Daughter?

June 22, 2012

By Attorney David Engler

The family of first generation Mexican immigrants lived in a small town named Shiner, Texas about 130 miles west of Houston.  The land is not easy to farm because the sun is so relentless and the soil rocky. 

But the extended family worked their farm and raised horses and crops enough to keep everyone fed. There was never enough money to buy  the newest  John Deere harvester or spend much money on building new barns. 

When Jesus, 47, who hung around the local hardware shop and the two beer joints at night offered to come shoe the horses for a few bucks, the young 23 year old father of two agreed. 

It was a Saturday in June and the work was going to be capped off with barbecued chicken on the grill.  He had plenty of Mesquite wood lying around to give it a taste like his Dad used to make it. Sunday was going to father’s day.  He would relax only then.

Around 3:30 pm Miguel heard a scream and at the same time a young neighbor boy turned the corner and yelled, a man had taken Angel from the house crying. Miguel could  recall the sprint to the barn from where he heard his daughter scream. Back along a pile of fencing, Jesus was on top of his daughter with his pants at his ankles.  By 4:30 pm the local coroner would pronounce Jesus dead. Miguel had landed the eight blows quickly to the head and neck of his daughter’s attacker. His five year old daughter was sobbing.

After beating Jesus Flores, the father called 911.

“I need an ambulance,” the father told the dispatcher, according to 911 tapes released by police. “This guy was raping my daughter and I beat him up and I don’t know what to do. This guy is fixing to die on me, man, and I don’t know what to do.”

“Come on! This guy is going to die on me!” he continued during the frantic, five-minute call. “I don’t know what to do!”

Emergency workers, as well as the daughter’s grandfather and aunt, tried to revive Flores but could not. Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon said he found the distraught father crying, saying that he had not intended to kill Flores.

“He’s a peaceable soul, ” V’Anne Huser, the father’s attorney, said. “He had no intention to kill anybody that day.”

The local sheriff ruled it a homicide, because that is what it was.  In the low hills of Texas people talked straight. Within a day the local prosecutor presented the case to a grand jury that just as plainly said, Miguel was justified.

Being justified.  It is the doing of an act that no reasonable person would say should not have been done.  No one really needs a law book to read the defense laid out in Texas law that deadly force to stop a sexual attack is justifiable. Of course it is.  If Miguel’s wife had turned the same corner and seen this drifter raping her girl and her husband landing blow after blow; she would not have stopped it.  There is not a place in my mind where I can say he should not have delivered such a sure and swift justice.  The beauty of this story is the remorse shown by Miguel. No one would have ever blamed him yet he said he did not mean to kill. 

The father’s protection of his children knows no bounds.  For Miguel there will be nightmares.  But he shall forever be justified.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

Also published on Family Fault Lines Blog http://familyfaultlines.com/


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