Sunday, February 27, 2011

Baby LK Report For February 27th 2011 - Transparency and Accountability Gone Wild

Baby LK recaps the week in new for the child protective industry.

Baby LK Report for February 27th 2011 - Transparency and Accountability Gone Wild edition.

For these stories and all the latest dirt on the child protective industry visit Legally Kidnapped

This week:
The US Supreme Court will hear a case to decide whether or not social workers can go into your kids school and interrogate them without parental consent or a court order.

Florida is the foster crimes capital of the week.

A social worker gets busted for growing pot in her house...

and much much more.

Wikileaks Exposes Drugging Kids as Lab Rats

Do not believe for one moment the practice of using people under the care of the state and the poor for clinical drug trials has ended, nor should you believe people no longer cover up such practices.

AP IMPACT: Ugly US medical experiments uncovered

ATLANTA -- Shocking as it may seem, U.S. government doctors once thought it was fine to experiment on disabled people and prison inmates. Such experiments included giving hepatitis to mental patients in Connecticut, squirting a pandemic flu virus up the noses of prisoners in Maryland, and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill people at a New York hospital.
Much of this horrific history is 40 to 80 years old, but it is the backdrop for a meeting in Washington this week by a presidential bioethics commission. The meeting was triggered by the government's apology last fall for federal doctors infecting prisoners and mental patients in Guatemala with syphilis 65 years ago.
U.S. officials also acknowledged there had been dozens of similar experiments in the United States - studies that often involved making healthy people sick.  Read more

In child welfare, under the guise of the "best interests of the child" principle, secrecy laws prevent exposing the use of poor and foster children as lab rats.

Uganda's poor children
Children of third world countries and nations in transition have become 'laboratory rats' for the US' clinical tests for new drugs, an Indian newspaper says.

Under US' 1997 legislation called the Pediatric Exclusivity Provision, intended to speed up development of new drugs for American kids, the trials were carried out in countries such as Uganda and India, The Times of India reported.

Although the trials were carried out in such countries, using their children as laboratory rats, it is not clear if okayed medicines might ever become available there and whether they will be affordable for them.

The most egregious activity of using vulnerable poor children as lab rats is the generation of imperialistic morality propaganda to defend the practices of big pharma.

One of the biggest protectors of the practice of using foster kids as lab rats is the law.  The next level of protection comes from media personalities who wanted to persecute the persons who brought this to light.

Glenn Beck covering up
using poor kids as lab rats
"America has suffered an embarrassing leak of classified information via WikiLeaks. According to some reports today, this is the largest loss of sensitive information by a world superpower in all of human history. But the question is, what did we learn from these? Is there anything new here? I've seen much of what it out there and I've heard the people on TV talk about it. This is merely serving to tell you what you already knew – the government is lying to you."

The only way the Department of Justice can approach the issue of stopping the practices of using poor children as lab rats is to engage in unconventional methods.  The Wikileaks or Cablegate scandal allowed for prosecution of health care fraud.  It is not much, but it is a start.
U.S. Embassy Cable on Pfizer Clinical Trials on Children, Their Murders and Settlement

Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Texas Hospital Prohibiting Anticompetitive Contracts with Health Insurers

Department Says United Regional's Contracts Unlawfully Maintain Monopoly Power
WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement with United Regional Health Care System of Wichita Falls, Texas, that prohibits it from entering into contracts that improperly inhibit commercial health insurers from contracting with United Regional's competitors. The department said that United Regional unlawfully used these contracts to maintain its monopoly for hospital services in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act, causing consumers to pay higher prices for health care services. This is the first case brought by the department since 1999 that challenges a monopolist with engaging in traditional anticompetitive unilateral conduct.  
The Department of Justice's Antitrust Division, along with the Texas Attorney General's office, filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, along with a proposed settlement that, if approved by the court, would resolve the lawsuit.
"Unfettered competition among hospitals is vital to ensuring that patients receive high-quality, low-cost health care," said Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. "Today's settlement prevents a dominant hospital from using its market power to harm consumers by undermining its competitors' ability to compete in the marketplace."
According to the complaint, United Regional is by far the largest hospital in Wichita Falls. Its share of general acute-care inpatient hospital services is approximately 90 percent, and its share of outpatient surgical services is more than 65 percent. It is the region's only provider of certain essential services such as cardiac surgery, obstetrics and high-level trauma care. In Wichita Falls, United Regional's average per-day rate for inpatient hospital services sold to commercial health insurers is about 70 percent higher than its closest competitor for the services that are offered by both hospitals.
The department said that in order to maintain its monopoly in the provision of inpatient hospital and outpatient surgical services, United Regional systematically required most commercial health insurers to enter into contracts that effectively prohibited them from contracting with United Regional's competitors. United Regional's contracts required these insurers to pay significantly higher prices if they contracted with a nearby competing facility. Since United Regional is a must-have hospital for any insurer that wants to sell health insurance in the Wichita Falls area, and because the penalty for contracting with United Regional's rivals was so significant, almost all insurers offering health insurance in Wichita Falls entered into exclusionary contracts with United Regional. As a result, competing hospitals and facilities could not obtain contracts with most insurers and were less able to compete, helping United Regional maintain its monopoly in the relevant markets and raising health-care costs to the detriment of consumers.
The proposed settlement, which if accepted by the court would be in effect for seven years, restores lost competition by prohibiting United Regional from using agreements with commercial health insurers that improperly inhibit insurers from contracting with United Regional's competitors. In particular, United Regional is prohibited from conditioning the prices or discounts that it offers to commercial health insurers based on whether those insurers contract with other health-care providers and from inhibiting insurers from entering into agreements with United Regional's rivals. United Regional is also prohibited from taking any retaliatory actions against an insurer that enters into an agreement with a rival provider.
United Regional Health Care System is a private Texas nonprofit corporation, with its principal place of business in Wichita Falls. United Regional had net patient revenues of approximately $265 million for 2009.
The proposed settlement, along with the department's competitive impact statement, will be published in the Federal Register, as required by the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act. Any person may submit written comments concerning the proposed settlement within 60 days of its publication to Joshua H. Soven, Chief, Litigation I Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 Fifth St. N.W., Suite 4100, Washington, D.C. 20530. At the conclusion of the 60-day comment period, the court may enter the final judgment upon a finding that it serves the public interest.

"Kids For Cash" Horror- A Lesson from Maura Corrigan

Maura Corrigan promoting judicial advocacy for adoption as an extrajudicial activity
I do not understand why the "Kids for Cash" scandal is considered a "horror".  Michigan former State Supreme Court Chief Justice now Director for the Department of Human Services, Maura Corrigan advocated fiercely for extrajudicial activism in child welfare.  She encouraged judges to partner with child welfare organizations to promote revenue-maximization of the child welfare system.  She went so far as to publicly advocate for Bill Johnson, Superintendent of Michigan Children's Institute, the man who has the power of a Caesar for adoption decisions, while the matter was pending before her Court.Fostering the Future: Safety, Permanence and Well-Being for Children in Foster Care

"Kids For Cash" Horror- A Lesson in Prosecuting Public Trust Corruption

Legal Intelligencer: Ciavarella prosecutors kept it simple
The Legal Intelligencer/The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - COMMENTARY - February 21, 2011

The racketeering trial of former Luzerne County Common Pleas Judge Mark A. Ciavarella startled many observers by proceeding at what seemed like warp speed. The dispatch with which federal prosecutors made their case against the judge in the "kids-for-cash" trial stands in vivid contrast to the glacial pace of other political corruption trials, like that of former Democratic state Sen. Vince Fumo and the Bonusgate trials. The cases are unrelated, but the contrasts among them may provide lessons for prosecutors, defense counsel and citizens. The Ciavarella trial climaxed Friday when a federal jury returned guilty verdicts on racketeering charges and 12 of 39 total counts. Mr. Fumo's trial, by contrast, required five months to complete. (Jurors convicted him on 137 counts.) In the most high-profile Bonusgate case, former state Rep. Mike Veon, of Beaver County, was convicted in June on 14 of 59 counts after nearly six weeks of testimony. Another Bonusgate defendant, state Rep. Sean Ramaley, was acquitted on all counts in the first trial stemming from the attorney general's probe of alleged improper payments to legislative aides for political work. Mr. Ramaley's trial required only four days of testimony. The Bonusgate cases, unlike the prosecutions of Mr. Fumo and Judge Ciavarella, were tried in state courts by the state attorney general, not in federal court by U.S. attorneys. Prosecutors in the Ciavarella case, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod, pursued a strategy of keeping the case straightforward -- emphasizing allegations that payments were made by the owners of two private juvenile detention facilities and de-emphasizing the process of sending minors to the facilities. Mr. Zubrod's decision had the effect of avoiding mini-trials on individual cases handled by Mr. Ciavarella.

Mr. Fumo's trial, in contrast, was a wide-ranging examination of every aspect of the former senator's office management, with forays into his personal life and even home improvement. More to the point, many of the main counts against Mr. Fumo included honest services fraud, which has been criticized as being vague, and at best remains elusive, especially to non-lawyers who serve on juries. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of convicted Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling, said that honest services fraud could only be alleged in cases of bribery and kickbacks. Bribery and kickbacks are certainly at the heart of the case against Mr. Ciavarella. And he is charged with honest services fraud. Because he can point to money changing hands, Mr. Zubrod had the advantage of trying his case after the U.S. Supreme Court in the Skilling case focused on the honest-services fraud statute. Mr. Fumo's prosecutors, led by Robert Zauzmer, tried their defendant in the absence of direction from the Skilling court. They therefore had to draw a picture of an office where there was no proper line drawn between personal services to the former senator and work in the interest of constituents. Mr. Zauzmer's case at the end of the day was convincing to a jury that returned guilty verdicts on all 137 counts. In the Fumo case, it seems, the slow building up of a mountain of evidence and allegations seemed to overwhelm Mr. Fumo's basic argument that he did nothing that ran afoul of state Senate rules. At the end of the day, jurors are looking for credibility. Credibility was what Mr. Fumo was lacking, particularly after he told jurors on the stand that he received a $1 million gift to help pay off a divorce settlement. Credibility may have been forfeited -- at least in part -- by Mr. Ciavarella when he admitted to three instances of filing false tax returns last week in a Scranton courtroom.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

248 Years For Molesting Foster Children

For decades Ed Foulk used sleepovers, theme park trips and Ferrari rides to prey on young boys, including his adopted son. Christine Pelisek on how a serial sex abuser was finally stopped and punished.
In early September 2009, Rick W., an area director for a northern California provider of healthcare personnel, was making calls in Napa Valley to drum up business for his company. Having 40 minutes to kill before his next appointment, he made a spur-of-the-moment decision to stop by Napa State Hospital. Despite having no appointment, he was hoping the director of nursing would squeeze him in.
Article - Pelisek Ed FoulkClaude Edward Foulk, the 62-year-old former executive director of the state's largest mental health facility in Napa, California, is arraigned on Feb. 26, 2010 in Long Beach, California. (Photo: Brittany Murray / AP Photo)
Rick drove his blue Volvo 940 turbo sports car onto Napa State Hospital’s sprawling grounds, past cottage-style bungalows, a defunct post office, and dilapidated employee lodgings—some of which had old signs reading, “single nurse’s home “and “married nurse’s home”—to the administration building. Five minutes later, he was standing in line at the front desk. It was then that he noticed a man who looked to be in his early 60s, dressed in a wool vest and bow tie, walking down the hallway. The man glanced in Rick’s direction before ducking into an office. A short time later, the man reappeared, then stepped out of view again. Rick was immediately struck with the feeling of déjà vu. Why did the man look so familiar?
Overwhelmed with curiosity, Rick asked a nurse who the man was. Ed Foulk, she responded—the hospital’s executive director. “It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Rick recalls. He vaguely remembers thanking the nurse, walking quickly out of the hospital and getting back into his car. “I put the Vulcan death grip on my leather steering wheel,” he says. “The name hit me. I repeated it to myself a couple of times. I got chills down my spine. I said to myself: ‘This is the guy who molested me.’ ”
Rick W., who is 46, a 260-pound former high school football star and the married father of four boys and one girl, recalls that he began to tremble uncontrollably. “I had never thought about it, never thought about him,” until that day in 2009, he says. “It was the first time in 34 years I had thought about it.”
He drove back to his office and didn’t say another word about what had happened to anyone—not even his wife—for a week. “It was eating me up inside, and I needed to tell someone,” he says. “I wanted to drive back to Napa and pull him out of his office and start wailing on him.”
“The name hit me. I repeated it to myself a couple of times. I got chills down my spine. I said to myself: ‘This is the guy who molested me.’ ” —Rick W.
Rick realized that fate had delivered him an awful opportunity. He called an old high school friend who was now a police officer in Long Beach, where Rick grew up and where the abuse occurred. His cop friend told him he needed to report the abuse, even all these decades later, because child molesters don’t stop. “Don’t you want to protect other kids?” the cop asked.
The following month, Rick was sitting in the office of Long Beach Police Department sex crimes detective Jennifer Kearns. Although the statute of limitations had run out, Kearns listened to his terrifying tale.
So began a police investigation that would cover four decades and become one of the most notorious cases in Long Beach history. It is notable in the annals of law enforcement because of the determination of Rick W. to seek justice for others, if not himself; the determination of Kearns in pursuit of other victims; and the eventual decision of one of these victims, Foulk’s adopted son, Jonathan, to bring charges.
Abandoned by his schizophrenic mother at birth, Jonathan lived in 15 different foster homes, witnessed the murder of his foster brother, and had already been sexually abused by another foster-care father by the time he met Foulk at the age of 8.
“There was someone interested in me,” he testified about Foulk. “None of my foster parents wanted to adopt me. No one bought me a toy growing up.”

CPS Quotas: How Child Protective Services is Incentivized To Take Children

You go, girl!

Welcome to the world of human trafficking, paid for with your 
tax dollars!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

HHS imposes a $4.3 million civil money penalty for violations of the HIPAA Privacy Rule

But guess what!  It does not apply to child welfare.  

That is right.  If a parent who has a child in foster care attempts to ask for medical records, you will never get them. 

Yes, you can file all the FOIA's and authorization for release of medical information pertaining to your child, but those records will never see the light of day.  

Why?  Well, it is like this.  Say you robbed a bank.  Would you go to the authorities and turn over the money, complete with affidavits from witnesses who saw you commit the robbery and the video tape of the incident?  The answer more than likely is no.  So why would a state turn over medical records of a child who has been in foster care, whether properly or improperly?

Medicaid fraud in child welfare is a dangerous dance without civil or criminal penalties.

HHS imposes a $4.3 million civil money penalty for violations of the HIPAA Privacy Rule

Action marks first civil money penalty issued by HHS for HIPAA Privacy Rule violations
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued a Notice of Final Determination finding that Cignet Health of Prince George’s County, Md., (Cignet) violated the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HHS has imposed a civil money penalty (CMP) of $4.3 million for the violations, representing the first CMP issued by the Department for a covered entity’s violations of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
The CMP is based on the violation categories and increased penalty amounts authorized by Section 13410(d) of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.
“Ensuring that Americans’ health information privacy is protected is vital to our health care system and a priority of this Administration. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is serious about enforcing individual rights guaranteed by the HIPAA Privacy Rule,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
In a Notice of Proposed Determination issued Oct. 20, 2010, OCR found that Cignet violated 41 patients’ rights by denying them access to their medical records when requested between September 2008 and October 2009. These patients individually filed complaints with OCR, initiating investigations of each complaint. The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires that a covered entity provide a patient with a copy of their medical records within 30 (and no later than 60) days of the patient’s request. The CMP for these violations is $1.3 million.
During the investigations, Cignet refused to respond to OCR’s demands to produce the records. Additionally, Cignet failed to cooperate with OCR’s investigations of the complaints and produce the records in response to OCR’s subpoena. OCR filed a petition to enforce its subpoena in United States District Court and obtained a default judgment against Cignet on March 30, 2010. On April 7, 2010, Cignet produced the medical records to OCR, but otherwise made no efforts to resolve the complaints through informal means.
OCR also found that Cignet failed to cooperate with OCR’s investigations on a continuing daily basis from March 17, 2009, to April 7, 2010, and that the failure to cooperate was due to Cignet’s willful neglect to comply with the Privacy Rule. Covered entities are required under law to cooperate with the Department’s investigations. The CMP for these violations is $3 million.
“Covered entities and business associates must uphold their responsibility to provide patients with access to their medical records, and adhere closely to all of HIPAA’s requirements,” said OCR Director Georgina Verdugo. “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will continue to investigate and take action against those organizations that knowingly disregard their obligations under these rules.”
Individuals who believe that a covered entity has violated their (or someone else’s) health information privacy rights or committed another violation of the HIPAA Privacy or Security Rule may file a complaint with OCR at

Dade County home where abused twins lived was a house of horrors

Still photograph reproduced from a video shown during court proceeding Feb. 16, 2011, shows Nubia Barahona, a 10-year-old whose body was found wrapped in plastic in a pest control truck.
Still photograph reproduced from a video shown during court proceeding Feb. 16, 2011, shows Nubia Barahona, a 10-year-old whose body was found wrapped in plastic in a pest control truck.
Jorge Barahona in Palm Beach County court for his first appearance hearing February 18, 2011.
Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post
Jorge Barahona in Palm Beach County court for his first appearance hearing February 18, 2011.
Carmen Barahona peers from behind a sheet of paper she used to shield herself from media cameras during court proceedings on Feb. 16, 2011.
Miami Herald
Carmen Barahona peers from behind a sheet of paper she used to shield herself from media cameras during court proceedings on Feb. 16, 2011.
Outside the Miami home of Jorge and Carmen Barahona.
Ana Valdes/Palm Beach Post
Outside the Miami home of Jorge and Carmen Barahona.

The 3-bedroom house where two abused twins lived resembles a fortress - cloaked in shrubs, protected by cameras and secluded behind a gate.

Jorge and Carmen Barahona had custody of fraternal twin foster children for three years and were moving slowly toward adoption when they hit a formidable obstacle: a stubborn court-appointed guardian.
Paul Neumann, a volunteer guardian-ad-litem, had seen something in the West Miami-Dade couple that scared him, and he said so to everyone in the child welfare system who would listen.
The Barahonas sought help from an administrator with the foster care agency that oversaw their case. And when that fell short, they prevailed to a higher authority: then-Gov. Charlie Crist.
In a series of three letters spanning the summer of 2007 through early 2008, the Barahonas accused Neumann of conspiring with employees of the Miami-Dade school system, "tampering'' with witnesses and trying to snatch the twins from their custody. Neumann, they wrote, was violating their civil rights.
"They have been deceitful with us all along," the Barahonas wrote in a June 4, 2007 letter to Crist, "and we feel that we have been taken for fools."
Florida child welfare administrators now claim that they were the ones who were deceived.
On Feb. 10, the Department of Children & Families' child abuse hotline received a report that the Barahonas were binding the twins, Nubia and Victor Doctor, hand-and-foot and forcing them to stand in a bathtub for hours at the family home in West Miami-Dade. Investigators had yet to find the twins when Victor was discovered in a pickup truck on the side of Interstate 95 in West Palm Beach doused in chemicals and in the midst of seizures. Hours later, police found Nubia's body in the truck's flatbed, stuffed in a bag and drenched in chemicals. A source said Friday the children may have been sprayed with pesticides.
DCF administrators have declined repeatedly to release records on the couple, though they say some documents may be forthcoming.
But several records obtained last week by The Miami Herald, along with interviews of neighbors and child welfare workers, paint a portrait of a couple determined to raise their adoptive family their own way, shielded from the prying eyes of child-welfare workers, in a house cloaked by thick, overgrown shrubs.
"All roads lead back to that house," DCF's top Miami administrator, Jacqui Colyer, said last week.
Jorge Barahona was born in Nicaragua; Carmen in Cuba.
They married on Jan. 19, 1996, in Coral Gables. She was 45; he was 38.
Carmen Barahona has worked for several years for one of South Florida's largest medical practices, Pediatric Associates. Her husband owned a pest control company, and operated out of a red pickup truck that carried lethal chemical in plastic jugs.
The couple had another, rather substantial source of income: state subsidies for the four foster children they adopted. In court last week, Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ordered that the roughly $950-per-month in adoption subsidies for the three surviving children be immediately discontinued. The amount likely reached $1,200 when Nubia was alive.
The Barahonas lived in a typical western Miami-Dade suburb, close to a hospital, a public school and filled with families whose children move easily between English and Spanish.
The Barahona home, a three-bedroom, one-bath, at first glance passes for the best-kept home on their suburban block, with a gleaming front driveway of fresh pavers, a coat of light-colored paint and a lawn full of lush landscaping. But look closer, and it resembles a well-manicured fortress, armed with heavy shrubbery to keep away glancing eyes and cameras that peered out at visitors, showing those inside whoever came near the front door.
A black metal gate, more than four feet tall, keeps passersby from setting foot on the front yard. Tall wooden planks on the side of the house, bearing Beware of Dog signs, obscure any view from the side. Palm trees and tall shrubs line the front of the house, obscuring the windows.
Thick shrubs grown so tall they brush against the roof guard each side of the front doors like centurions. The heavy tangles of branches and leaves on both sides of the front entrance mean that neighbors like Leida Alonso, who has lived next door for more than five years, can glance over and not even see if the door is open.
What went on in the house was a "family secret'' that was never to be discussed, one of the Barahonas' surviving adoptive children — as well as the couple's biological granddaughter — told investigators in recent days.
In all her years in the neighborhood, Alonso said, she saw Jorge Barahona maybe five or seven times. She never saw anyone else at the house at all, she said.
"I never saw his wife, never saw a kid," Alonso said
Across the street, Hilda Duque said in five years in the neighborhood she only saw children with the couple once. About six months ago, she saw two small children. She thinks they were coming or going to the beach because a little girl was wearing a bathing suit.
But Duque said she never even knew the family's name. When Duque went outside to water her plants, she would occasionally see Carmen Barahona, but Barahona kept quiet. She guessed Carmen worked as a nurse, based only on seeing her from afar in what looked like a nurse's uniform.
Even the letter carrier was kept at bay. The couple placed their mailbox at the front gate, so mail could be delivered without a person stepping on the lawn.
The Barahonas became licensed foster parents in 1999, and had adopted their first child, a boy, by 2001. By 2004, the Barahonas had custody of four foster children, including the twins.
Within the next three years, Florida's child abuse hotline received three reports on Nubia — all of them initiated by someone at the girl's school. Several school employees testified at the Barahonas' adoption hearing that they had serious concerns about the couple's custody of the kids.
Under Florida law, teachers and guidance counselors are defined as "mandatory reporters" of child abuse and neglect, and they can be prosecuted for failing to report their suspicions. State policy grants professionals such as teachers, coaches and therapists great deference when they report suspected abuse, and investigators are taught to assume such reports are credible.
The first report arrived in January 2005: "My father is touching me," Nubia reportedly disclosed to someone at school. Child welfare supervisors could not determine whether Nubia was referring to her birth father, who had lost custody at least a year earlier, or Barahona, although they suspected the girl meant her birth dad. They took no action on the report, The Miami Herald was told.
A little more than a year later, in February 2006, DCF received a second report. Nubia, the hotline was told, had bruising on her chin and neck and her teachers suspected she had been abused. DCF ordered the Barahonas to take the girl to the Department of Health's Child Protection Team in Miami, but the couple did not arrive for the appointment for a week, The Herald has learned. By then, the bruising had largely disappeared. The state doctors concluded the bruising was consistent with the Barahonas' contention that Nubia had fallen, and that no abuse had occurred.
In March 2007, DCF received a third report, that Nubia was dirty and unkempt, constantly complained that she was hungry and smelled badly.
School workers filed a strikingly similar report to the hotline again in June 2010, noting that Nubia was so "uncontrollably" hungry that she was stealing food. The 2010 report also included this detail: Nubia was losing her hair, and had become "nervous" and "jittery."
In comments to reporters Thursday, DCF Secretary David Wilkins — who did not address the 2007 and 2010 reports directly — said agency investigators' efforts were critically hindered by the Barahonas' insistence that what appeared to be poor hygiene was actually the effects of a medical condition that affected the girl's endocrine system. "The medical condition," Wilkins said, "complicated the decision-making of investigators."
The contention, Wilkins said, was one of several ways in which the couple had misled investigators, perhaps for several years.
"It's always hard to deal with deception,'' Wilkins said. "There are some assumptions we made that, in hindsight, we would look at differently."
Sources say DCF did not refer the family back to the Child Protection Team either in 2007 or in 2010 for an independent opinion on the girl's condition.
It was in 2007, records suggest, when the volunteer guardian, Neumann, became extremely concerned for the twins.
Though Neumann could not be reached for comment, the letters written by the Barahonas in 2007 and 2008 say the guardian had discussed Nubia's welfare several times with employees of the girl's school, including an assistant principal.
The school, they said, gave Neumann "a room alone with the children for the entire lunch time," and allowed the guardian to interview them. "When we picked up the children from school they told us everything."
Neumann also interviewed relatives of the twins who lived in Texas. A lawyer for the children's aunt and uncle appeared in court last week and confirmed that the couple had raised "red flags" about the Barahonas during their attempts to gain custody of the children from the Barahonas.
In the letters, the Barahonas repeatedly denied allegations that they were "dirty and uncaring parents." Though "we put our trust in the courts and the DCF attorney,'' the couple wrote, "we were humiliated in front of everybody'' at a court hearing in the summer of 2007.
The Barahonas reserved a special contempt for "Mr. Paul [Neumann], the guardian-ad-litem, with whom we have had a personality conflict since the beginning because of his arrogance and smart remarks, and we put up with this.''
A June 4, 2007 letter to Crist also suggests the couple had refused to allow Neumann access to the children — a theme that would repeat itself again and again in coming years, and, perhaps, end in tragic results last week.
"We were … told that this is not a game and that Mr. Neumann does this out of the goodness of his heart because he doesn't get paid. I guess the court believes that we must be doing this for the money," they wrote in an Aug. 5, 2007 letter to the governor.
"If we have done anything wrong," the Barahonas wrote, "let us be held accountable for it."