Legally Kidnapped

Shattering Your Child Welfare Delusions Since 2007

Friday, May 25, 2012

A System-Suckology Case Study: The Death of Ethan Henderson

The state of Maine has been recognized by the Anne E. Casey Foundation as having a NationalModel Child Welfare System.   The reason for this is that the state has managed to cut the number of kids in foster care in half over the last 10 years, by utilizing more kinship placements and doing more to help the family by giving the parents the support they need, which helps keep children who come to the attention of Maine's Child Protective Services safe in their own homes.   These reforms happened mostly in response to thedeath of a little girl named Logan Marr.

Then on May 5th, of this year, there was another horrible act of child abuse committed against a little baby from Maine named Ethan Henderson.  I have been following this case because I believe it is being used as a springboard in Maine to turn around the trend of taking less kids into care and instead be a bit quicker to remove.   For this, I believe there are two reasons.  The first is that the state is broke and the more kids they take into care, the more federal funding they will receive.   The second reason is that the state's economy is staggering, needs to be able to provide business to the service providers.   We all know that the minute a kid is taken into foster care an army of service providers, everybody from the lawyers to the shrinks, get their contracts.   For example, as the state moves to put less reliance onto group homes the group home providers will fight to remain afloat by touting their benefits to some news reporter looking for an expert opinion.  Without business, they close.  But we'll get to that later.


I have done something a little different with this case.  What I have done is collect a number of articles that mention the case of Ethan Henderson.  From these articles, I pulled out various factors, main points, what have you, and put it all into a mind mapping software program that I found in the GoogleChrome Web Store.  From there I was able to pick out and organize a few of the patterns that the people who are fighting for justice against Child Welfare Fraud should be made aware of.

So lets take a look at this case. 

The mother, had gone to work on Saturday May 5th, leaving her three kids with Gordon Collins-Faunce.  Collins-Faunce was the father of their 10 week old twins named Ethan and Lucas.  At one point the father went out to have a cigarette, and when he came back Ethan and a 3 year old daughter from the mothers previous relationship were both crying.  Collins-Faunce became frustrated with the baby crying and picked Ethan up by the head, holding him dangling for a minute max, then threw him violently into a chair, causing the infants head to snap back.  When being questioned by the police, Collins-Faunce estimated that on a scale of 1 to 10, the force with which he threw Ethan was probably an 8 or 9.  Friends also said that Collins-Faunce had been targeting Ethan, and that they didn't even realize it.

Doctors said that Ethan presented as dirty with a rash, dirt under the fingernails and a dirty belly button.  They also said that they had found both New and old brain injuries.  He was blinded and one side of his brain had completely stopped working.  Police were monitoring his condition which was described as "grave" and on May 7th, Ethan died.

Now, this is one of those cases where Child Protective Services really should have been involved.  This guy is a sicko, and is obviously not safe to have around children.  Also, if CPS was involved with this family, that is something that we do not know at this point.  What we do know is that there were prior incidents of abuse.

The first incident was when Collins-Faunce had broken the babies arm when he was 4 weeks old.  He had gotten frustrated while changing the baby's diaper.  The child was treated by doctors.  Collins-Faunce had originally told them that the baby's arm had got stuck between the crib and a bumper.

As for the second incident, court documents show that a daycare provider made the referral to CPS regarding bruises on the 3 year old daughter whose name was Neveah  The daycare provider also said that the twins were sick and not receiving medical attention.

Now here's where the case gets interesting, because Police will not say when this referral to CPS was made, and although one state worker did confirm that they had received a referral from the daycare provider, DHHS will not confirm or deny anything.  Although we know that the above did happen, details are rather slim.  The State of Maine's Attorney General's office is not allowing anybody to talk, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.  Nobody else is being allowed to talk either including the hospital, CPS or anybody else who may have had contact with the family.  And this is where the $100,000 dollar question comes from… "Why didn't CPS do anything to protect these kids?"

The newspapers are going nutty over it.  The System Sucks are demanding answers.  The people have a right to know if there are any flaws in the child welfare system.  The legislature Health and Human Services committee  wants to know if more could have been done to save this child to prevent more kids from falling through the cracks.   I will discuss this in further detail later, but first there is more to this story.  Lets take a look at the parents.

As for the mother, Christina Henderson, she was at work when the assault took place. no criminal charges have been filed against her, however Maine CPS Agents have removed the other two children, Lucas and Neveah from the home and have placed them in foster care.   Records say that she never knew what was going on, although there has been a little debate around this, considering the broken arm and her 3 year old being "covered with bruises" there are those who believe that she must have done something.  She is planning to petition the court to have the kids returned to her now that Collins-Faunce is no longer in the home. She also held a vigil at the home, calling Ethan her "Angel in Heaven."

Not all that much more is known about the mother.  The father however had a history which should concern us greatly. 

Gordon Collins-Faunce was 23 years old.  He was a high school graduate who worked as a flagger on a road crew.  He was discharged from the military after holding a knife to a roommates throat.  Collins-Faunce was also in foster care in Maine, having gone through six different homes in 5 years.  He was sexually and physically abused by "various foster parents" and was taking medication for PTSD because of this.   In 1997, Collins-Faunce was adopted by Irving Faunce and his wife, he was 8 years old at the time.

Collins-Faunces PTSD meds had been changed recently, and he was having trouble sleeping.  On the day of the assault against Ethan, he did not take his meds.

Gordon Collins-Faunce was arrested and charged with Elevated Aggravated Assault of a Child.  After Ethan died, the charges were upgraded to, "depraved indifference murder" which shows no value for human life.  He is sitting in York County Jail, on suicide watch, on $100,000 dollars bail.   His lawyer is named Amy Fairfield.  He will be prosecuted by the State of Maine's Attorney Generals office.  He makes his first court appearance on May 11th.  The criminal case is expected to last about a year.  The AG doesn't want anybody to talk, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.   The AG also wants a psychiatric evaluation done by the State Forensic Services.

Now, the way the newspapers are reporting this, nothing in his past matters.  Nor should we be concerned with the circumstances of his past in any way.  This guy is a monster who killed a child.   That is all that matters right?  Hang the mother-f*****!!!

I disagree.  Here's why.  One article talked about the adoption when Collins Faunce was 8, as being a happy ending to a troubled childhood.  While that may very well have been true, Gordon Collins-Faunce was clearly a damaged child who grew up to be a very damaged adult.  One so damaged, that he would at the age of 23 commit a horrendous act against a helpless infant. 

First of all, if he was taking medication for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to his inability to get past the sexual abuse that he suffered at the hands of "various foster parents."  This after being removed from his biological parents for "abuse or neglect."  That, and the fact that his medications had recently changed and causing trouble sleeping, it is quite possible that Gordon Collins-Faunce was not entirely sane at the time of the crime.  Psychiatric medications have been known to cause people to do some crazy things. 

Moving on…

What's most disturbing in this case is the public and media reaction to it.  What is most at issue is all of the secrecy and nobody talking is driving people absolutely nuts.  

DHHS would not comment citing confidentiality rules.  CPS says there is a state law preventing them from commenting on CPS cases.  Child welfare advocates are asking if signs of abuse were ignored by CPS.  Nobody is saying whether or not the broken arm incident triggered a call to the child abuse hotline, however a broken arm on a 4 week old should have been a bright red flag as should a 3 year old being "covered with bruises.  We do not know when the report to CPS was made by the daycare provider.  We do not know whether or not CPS acted on that report.  We do not know if CPS agents visited the family or if they had opened an investigation on the family.  We do know that they removed the other two children from the home after the assault.  We do not know of that turned up any further information.  Also, the hospital will not comment as to whether or not they made a report regarding the broken arm. 

As a result, lots of people are asking questions.  System Sucks are crawling out from under their rocks.  The newspapers are demanding that the state release information so that we may know just where CPS failed this child.  Was it because of a systematic failure?  Is CPS short staffed?  Did they investigate and find nothing wrong?  Were they even investigated at all based on previous reports?  Did any doctor, nurse, or anybody else report the broken arm to CPS?  Did CPS act upon the report of a 3 year old covered with bruises? 

Even Maine's Governor is concerned that, "The pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction," suggesting that the state has gone too far in trying to keep kids in their homes.  One could make the connection that if this is the case, that CPS did in fact investigate this family.  Governor Paul LePage, however, has also cut funding to DHHS which includes various programs that are used to keep kids safe in their own homes.   Governor LePage also claims to have been an abused child.

Sadly, Maine's governor is an idiot.  He does not consider the damage done to kids in Maine's foster care system and is using the case for a major shift in public policy change, which even Richard Wexler has thrown his two cents into the ring saying "Using Ethan's case for an excuse for major publicpolicy change would be a mistake."  That shift will be for CPS agents to remove more kids from their homes. 

I should also say that because nobody involved in the case in any way is talking, reporters are turning to the experts.  Questions are being asked of the states Child Death and Serious Injury Review Board.  Most importantly: Is CPS doing enough to protect children in Maine? 

As for the broken arm, people are suggesting that doctors should have reported such an incident on a child of such a young age.    We don't know if they did or not, because the AG has told everybody involved not to talk, but we find out that failure to report cases could hit a mandated reporter in the wallets with a $500 dollar fine.   Dr.Lawrence Ricci of Spurwink's Child Abuse Program says that "a broken arm should be viewed as a likely sign of abuse on a 10 week old baby."  Ricci also doesn't think that the state acts fast enough to remove children from their homes when there are signs of abuse.  Ricci also works for a private organization which provides group home services for foster kids in Maine as well as other services for abused and neglected children.  I'm not saying there is a connection between his opinions or his organization, I'm just sayin.

So what we end up with is a loud public outcry against a product of Maine's Foster Care System who was on medication at the age of 23 due to abuse which he suffered in Maine's Foster Care System, which will lead to more kids getting removed from their homes and thrown into Maine's Foster Care System.  Why people actually believe that if a kid can be sexually abused by "various foster parents" that throwing kids into foster care is keeping them safe, is beyond me.  

Whenever there is a child who dies from abuse or neglect, CPS reviews it's policies and procedures to see if anything could have been done differently so that that child will still be alive today.  Clearly in this particular case something went wrong.  We just don't know what that is exactly. 

There is a lot of concern around whether or not the broken arm incident was reported.  Perhaps it was perhaps it wasn't.   Nobody's talking.  Lawrence Ricci suggests that doctors are hesitant to report abuse because it either violates confidentiality.  Another doctor suggests that if they report a family, they never see the kids again so they loose track of how they're doing.  Ricci also suggests that in some cases, doctors are gullible and can't tell when a parent is lying.  Ricci, however can make all the suggestions and claims that he wants.  That doesn't change the fact that we simply don't know if the broken arm was reported. 

You can bet your sweet ass however that the whole system in Maine is about to go under the microscope.  It will give System Sucks something to talk about, something to debate and a path to grow their businesses.   It will give the media something to harp on.   The people will remain stuck on the fact that a baby died.   They won't care about any of the circumstances which led to this.  It will not matter that this is the kind of kid who comes out of Maine's Foster Care System.  They will simply demand that CPS do more to protect children.  Because they failed this one kid, many other children in Maine will pay.

My heart and best wishes go out to Christina Henderson and her family.

Bibliography:  (in no particular order)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Guess what

It Could Happen To You