1514 Winchester Rd
Annapolis, MD, 21409-5848
June 3, 2010
Mr. David Ladd, Assistant Director
Child Welfare Intake
Department of Social Services
Anne Arundel County
80 West Street
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Re: Winnifer Carlton, dob August 29, 2002
Dear Mr. Ladd:
I have been a resident of Anne Arundel County since 1978. As you may recall my wife, Margaret Candler, worked for the Department of Social Services for a number of years. I remember the long hours, difficult decisions, but basic pride in the professionalism of AADSS, and Child Protective Services in particular. I am acting on my own in requesting a meeting since Margaret feels she cannot afford to kick another tar-baby (she is already helping a woman in prison on a more than full-time basis).
I am asking for a meeting with you, rather than simply calling the “report-line,” because the case of Winnifer Carlton is by no means routine. Basically it is weird. As itemized below, in March 2009, an Anne Arundel school teacher observed reportable behavior by Winnifer, but chose to report it to Harford County DHS rather than to your Agency. Unaccountably, Harford County DSS did not refer it back to Anne Arundel (Winnifer’s school and home are in AAC). Moreover, the Harford DSS support of Winnifer has in my opinion been highly unprofessional, if not frankly uncaring. She was interviewed, made no disclosure (chiefly, she reported how much she missed her mother), and then she was denied all access to her mother for over a year. Furthermore, the interview was mis-reported in that several revealing and clearly audible replies were transcribed as “inaudible.”
Excerpts from the interview where Winnifer reported that her mother put Desitin on her “peepee” when it was sore (which helped) have been reported by Harford County CPS simply as “her mother put cream on her peepee.”
Moreover Harford CPS put Winnifer’s baby brother in foster care where, two months later, he was accidentally and negligently killed! Nothing in the above history leads me to believe that Winnifer is being well cared for. I would like to bring Lora Rosen and Michelle Etlin with me to meet with you since they have studied this case in some detail, and can provide any clarification that you may require.
AACPS probably has a file on Winnifer, since I understand there were past reports from the mother and the father, each against the other, concerning this child. The present concerns have nothing to do with these earlier allegations (which were all ruled “Unfounded”). These are new and different issues, raised by different people, not the parents; only the child remains the same. It is possible, of course, that the former problems may stem from ongoing conditions in Winnifer’s life.
Specifically, I believe that your department should check on the welfare of Winnifer Carlton on the following grounds:
* A mandated report of suspected child abuse was made by Ms. Priscilla Metcalfe, Winnie’s first-grade teacher, based on her observation that Winnie was masturbating excessively in class, but that Ms. Metcalfe made that report to the wrong county and never made any report to Anne Arundel County, the proper jurisdiction entrusted by our Legislature to protect Winnifer from abuse;
* Harford County Child Advocacy Center interviewed Winnifer after receiving the teacher’s mandated report, but the transcript of that interview bears the legend “supplement” – leaving a question in my mind about what preceded the interview and what procedures were used to justify the wrong county performing the investigation;
* After that interview, a “founded case” of sexual abuse of Winnifer by her mother (extremely unlikely) was made by Harford County CPS. There is a DVD of the interview and it is clear that Winnie’s interview could not possibly form the basis for such a finding. Another child, Natalie Anders, was interviewed three weeks later, and I leave it to you to decide if you would give any credibility to its contents. No support services appear to have been provided, possibly because the county of Harford is not actually authorized to deal with this “founded case”;
* As a result of the actions taken by Harford County CAC, Winnie has been deprived of all contact with her mother for over a year;
* During that period of time, Winnifer has not been protected from malicious, denigrating rumors about her mother that have been circulating in her family and among her school-mates, friends, relatives and neighbors;
* Winnie has experienced meeting, and then learning of the death of, her baby half-brother, and we do not know how she has been dealing with this additional trauma, or what she has been told about it;
* Winnie has been deprived of half of her religion, in that she is no longer permitted to engage in Jewish Prayer, which was previously a very important part of her life and development;
* That since another child (Natalie Anders, a resident of Harford County) was interviewed by the Harford County authorities without there having been any mandated report or other precipitating event to trigger such an interview, and since the transcript of that interview was typed up not on the standard CAC form but on plain white paper, it appears possible that Harford Co. CPS conducted an “unofficial” investigation, which may be a sign of undue influence, misfeasance or malfeasance somewhere in that agency;
* You may find on investigation that Natalie was the subject of a report, but if so we have not seen any reference to the nature of the report. If this becomes an issue, we would urge you to look at the documentation very carefully since it is difficult to reject the idea that Winnie is being used – very much against her will -- as a “weapon” against her mother;
* These many irregularities, taken together, have tended to show that the Harford County CPS Division has not conducted its investigations or its procedures in a fully professional manner, and indeed has almost certainly done (and continues to do) harm to Winnie rather than helping her.
As I said initially, this case is weird. That is why I feel it is so important for us to be able to speak with you personally and give you the documentation. Hopefully you will agree that an investigation into the welfare, and possible need for assistance, of Winnifer Carlton, is called for.
In light of Margaret’s experience with AACPS I am sure that when this case is adequately introduced to you and you have seen the voluminous but significant file, an investigation will be conducted in the most rigorous and emergent manner. There appears to be a possibility that Harford County might be seeking to prepare Winnie to become a prosecution witness against her mother (although judging from her interview, she has nothing derogatory to say about her mother) in which case a guardian ad litem would appear to be necessary, to protect her legal interests. Clearly she should be protected from any misguided attempts to force her to testify in court against her own mother; she has never complained of or disclosed abuse by her mother when officially interviewed and there has been no contact since the last interview.
I feel that it is imperative that Mrs. Priscilla Metcalfe (who made the report to Harford county) be debriefed immediately so that your Agency can determine what happened in this case, why it departed so seriously and inexplicably from the standard procedures set up by the Maryland Legislature for our child protective services agencies, and what must be done to correct this problem.
Attached to this letter please find the letter and curriculum vitae of Mark J. Mills, JD, MD, a forensic psychiatrist who joins me in urging you to let us meet with you, and to initiate a proper investigation into Winnie’s best interests. I will bring you the rest of the dossier on this case at your earliest convenience.