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51 formally ignored cases of child abuse reopened in Rockbridge by state

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ROCKBRIDGE CO. (WSLS 10) - An investigation into the Rockbridge Area Department of Social Services has led to more than 50 cases of potential child abuse being re-opened.

This comes after an internal review into the organization revealed reported cases of child abuse were shredded or never investigated.

This week, five members of the state team are investigating those cases thanks to the help of current employees who kept copy of records that their supervisor destroyed.

Almost a third of those have now been validated by the state team, meaning they have been investigated further.

That's 51 cases of potential child abuse that have been reopened.

Piedmont Regional Director Susan Reese is first pointed out issues during an internal review.

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She said the work of current employees who kept copies of those cases is key, and was a "bold, brave" move she applauds.

"It helped a great deal. They knew. I guess they just had a feeling that something was not right and they kept those and that was a great help to us in this," Reese said.

In all they've reviewed about 180 cases.

"Between the ones that were shredded and the ones that were pulled from the system, we checked everything," Reese said.

Now she and another member of the state team are personally investigating each one.

"It makes me feel much better to be able to assess the safety of these children and know that the children involved are safe," Reese said.

His first week on the job, Bill Burleson will now be the interim director in Rockbridge.

"I'm not here as a hatchet guy, I'm here as a fix it guy," Burleson said.

He is on a three-month contract and has been temporarily hired after retiring from a lifelong career in the field. He's working to reorganize the office.

"My job is to take the agency from right now and to get some people in here, get some training in here, do a little reorganizing and establish some lines of communication," Burleson said.

He's meeting with county leaders including the sheriff who he says will help in the hiring process of a new county director.

"First thing I did was give them my home phone number, my cell phone. I'm here part time... but I'm always on the other end of the telephone," Burleson said.

He says he is committed to getting the office on the right track before a permanent replacement is hired.

He says on Monday, a newly hired employee will start at the office to ensure that every case is entered in to the system.


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