Potential Problems In The Way DHHS Handled Fatal Child Abuse Cases
A watchdog agency says it found 'potential problems' with how the Department of Health and Human Services handled two fatal child abuse cases.
OPEGA is a government oversight committee that was tasked with investigating the way DHHS handled the cases of 4-year-old Kendall Chick and 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy. Both children died as a result of abuse at the hands of their caregivers, sparking a public outcry about what should have been done to remove them from their homes before it was too late.
In one of the cases, the report talks about poor job performance and a lack of supervision by the state's welfare agency in the death of one of the girls. For legal reasons, the report speaks in general terms, rather than identifying each case individually, so it doesn't give any indication whether the mistakes were made with Kendall or Marissa. It also talks about the fact that, in any instance where marks or injuries were observed in the weeks and months before each girl died, they were explained away by the caregivers as injuries the children had incurred on their own.
Kendall Chick died in December of 2017 of blunt force trauma to the abdomen. At the time of her death, she was living with her grandfather and his girlfriend, Shawna Gatto in Wiscasset. Gatto has pleaded not guilty to depraved indifference murder.
Marissa Kennedy died in February of this year of long-term child abuse and had injuries like a lacerated liver and bleeding on the brain. Officials say that she was beaten repeatedly for the months leading up to her death. Her mother, Sharon Carillo, and step-father, Julio Carillo are both charged with murder.
The report offers a broad view of DHHS and its Child and Protective Services policies and lists specific areas where it felt improvement was warranted. The full report can be found here.