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Report: Rockbridge Co. Social Services ignored, shredded child abuse reports

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - An internal investigation found reports of child abuse and neglect to social services in Rockbridge County were not only ignored, but never entered into the system and some were even shredded.

Investigators say one of those ignored reports involved an infant who later died. The child was found to be in what the agency called "an unfit home" that was "high risk."

Susan Reese, the head of the Social Services Piedmont Regional Office said 41 problems were identified with the Rockbridge department, but the most concerning were issues with child protective services.

READ THE FULL 38-PAGE REPORT

In confidential interviews, employees told Reese that their supervisor, who no longer works there and was not named, shredded some reports of child abuse cases without ever entering them into the system.

"The house was in horrible condition, there were other children involved and we wanted to make sure they were safe and sound," said Capt. Tony McFaddin with the Rockbridge County Sheriff's Office.

It was the death of an infant, a terrible tragedy that happened in 2013, that made McFaddin realize something was wrong with the county's social services.

"To us it was a very serious case and for some reason we didn't feel that the services that they were providing us, or the assistance they were providing us in the investigation, or the services they were providing those children we didn't feel were up to par," recalled McFaddin.

Those complaints, along with complaints from the public, prompted a review from Social Services Piedmont Regional Office.

Reese, who led the review, said what she found was unlike any other internal review.

"It is very disturbing. It was surprising," said Reese.

Forty-one issues were identified in her report, including slow responses to emergency calls, missed deadlines and a reported hostile work environment. Reese said it was issues with the child protective services that were most alarming.

"We did unfortunately find evidence that reports that had come in had been shredded rather than put into the system," explained Reese.

She said it was the Rockbridge County social services supervisor who got rid of the reports.

The review also found that between March 2015 and 2016, 271 reports of alleged child abuse were made. Reese said a little more than half weren't investigated.

She also said one of those cases was a report of child abuse of an infant who was considered to be in a high risk situation, that infant died earlier this year.

"that's tragedy," said Reese.

That death and the actions taken or not taken to help are being investigated.


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