April 18, 2014

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Agency placed kids in house with sex offender

LORAIN — Three children whose family was involved with Lorain County Children Services were placed in a home with a convicted sex offender, according to Lorain County Common Pleas Court documents.

The children’s mother, Mayra Valentin, said she contacted Children Services about the placement of the children, but she said nothing was done. She worries about her children now that they are living with the children’s paternal relatives, Samuel Rojas and Juana Jiminez.

Valentin said a person living in the home with them was convicted of a sex offense as a juvenile. She contends that she addressed these concerns with her caseworker, Milagros Marrero, because the person, now an adult, is in the home, but permanent placement was granted through the courts.

According to a court document filed June 8, 2006, the man was convicted of gross sexual imposition at the age of 14 for forcibly engaging in sexual contact with another child.

A Lorain police report from 2005 says he kissed a student in the hallway of Lorain Middle School, although the girl told him to stop. Police said he then forced his hands down her pants and exposed himself to the girl.

The girl, who had a learning disability, was extremely upset about the incident, according to the report.

The boy was initially charged with rape but was sentenced to probation as a sex offender and ordered to attend counseling and issue a letter of apology to court for a gross sexual imposition charge.

In 2008 court documents, the boy’s address was listed as the same address where the family lives now.

Spokeswoman Patti-Jo Burtnett said she couldn’t comment on the case or the agency’s involvement because of confidentiality laws.

But Burtnett did say that any time a child is placed into a home, the agency does extensive background checks, including on any children that may be in the home at the time.

“We do inquire about a juvenile’s court records,” she said.

She said, generally, placement decisions are not only made by Children Services, but by the court system as well.

“It’s a court process,” she said. “There are checks and balances, and there’s a huge oversight process.”

Lorain County Domestic Relations Court Judge Debra Boros could not discuss particular cases due to judicial laws, but she said Children Services would be responsible for the placement of the children.

“We place the children with the agency … we can’t dictate who the children can be placed with,” she said.

Boros said the court would not be aware of any issues with a placement unless evidence was presented in court or a motion was filed addressing the problems. The court could then determine if the child was in any imminent danger.

There were no motions raising the issue of the children’s placement in the case file, according to Denise Whiting, administrative assistant at Lorain County Domestic Relations Court.

Burtnett would not say whether Children Services addressed the man’s criminal record in court. She said when a court decision is reached, parents have a right to appeal the decision with an attorney.

Valentin did not appeal, and she and her attorney, James Barilla, signed the judgment granting custody to the children’s uncle, Rojas, in 2008. She also signed a motion for further dispositional orders, seeking to grant custody of another child to Jiminez in 2008.

Barilla said Valentin signed the order because she did not want to lose permanent custody of her children, which could have happened if the children went to another home. He said the issue of the man’s criminal record was addressed during court testimony, and another caseworker was sent to the home to investigate. The caseworker deemed the placement appropriate, he said.

Valentin said she wants her children moved. She said she believes that the sex offender has been staying in the same room as her 6-year-old son.

“I would like to have my kids removed from there, because I don’t feel that they’re safe there … If I’m not going to get them back, I’d rather them be placed with a (maternal) family member,” she said.

Multiple attempts to contact Rojas and Jiminez were unsuccessful.

According to court documents provided by Valentin, Children Services became involved with Valentin on May 9, 2007, as a result of concerns regarding the conditions of her home.

Children Services wrote that the home was cluttered with garbage, food and dirty diapers. The agency worked with Valentin and noted that there was a slight improvement to the condition of the home, but the home deteriorated in August 2007.

Children Services also noted that Valentin was unable to follow through on the children’s medical appointments, and the agency was concerned that Valentin’s mental functioning was low. She was unable to maintain employment during that time.

The agency was unaware of the location of one of the children’s fathers, and the other had been incarcerated for domestic violence charges against Valentin, according to court documents.

Valentin denied that her children were in the home when a caseworker visited and noted dirty conditions. She said they were staying with a friend, who called to verify the information. She said her children had been going to their medical appointments until a car accident left her without transportation.

Since Burtnett was contacted by The Chronicle-Telegram in the beginning of June about the placement of the children with a registered sex offender, Valentin said she has not been contacted by the agency and the placement hasn’t been changed.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.

  • Nancy Willis

    Is there something missing from this story or am I to understand that the children have lived with these people for 5 years and this woman is just now objecting to the placement that she willing signed papers agreeing to?

    • Mark

      Nancy, things are found out over time. Sure, maybe she should’ve done her homework beforehand, but when she found out she did the right thing and addressed it. But as is par lately for the course with child services, THEY screwed it up. And as is usual, they “can’t comment on”… translation? we won’t say what we did… or didn’t do, as it would incriminate us.

  • Beth

    This whole story is a cluster F! These poor kids.

  • tomfeher

    Children Services should get paid per case, maybe then they would get off their dead A** and do what they are paid to do

    • Bob Sweatt

      Agreed.

  • Jen

    Lorain County is failing its at risk children.

  • K.B.

    Typical Lorain County Children Services response, actions and excuses..What an incompetent organization and I saw it upfront and personal.

    • Bob Sweatt

      Yeah LCCS hasn’t had a good track record over the last few years.

  • KIM

    I have no words except that the system does not protect the children. Disgusting……..

  • hottamomma

    y isnt any one picketing lccs and trying to get someone fired? oh they r only humans and not cats! poor kids, i hope they r ok and havent been violated

    • hottamomma

      and this wasnt for everyone, u guys no who u r(that im talking about)

  • Smarter1

    All you people leaving nasty messages about lccc: how about stepping up to the plate and foster kids that need loving homes? Guess what? There isn’t an endless supply out there.

    • Melanie Dove

      Smarter 1:People who do offer help, info. and a loving home are often told stories and pushed to the side. Fosters who ask too many questions or try and help too much are no longer needed.

  • Kelly

    Did it ever occur to any of you that they are understaffed and under paid. They laid off 14 people who were the support staff to the social workers. It’s very easy to sit on the sidelines and make your comments bashing everyone..do it for one day, under the pressure they consistently face and I can guarantee none of you would
    make it for an hour.

  • Poohbear

    They just need to do away with Children Services period!

  • Ethan’s Mom

    My husband and I were foster parents with LCCS 8 years ago. We received placement of a beautiful baby boy who we have since adopted. I cannot say enough about the case workers. We had a case worker, my son had a case worker and there was a court appointed advocate all of these people were professional and caring through a two year process of adopting our son. These people work in a very stressful environment and guess what they are human and sometimes make mistakes. We only hear about the bad cases when there are many positive outcomes!

  • Tanisha Shreffler

    there asre some that are caring but when someone trys to do right and get there kids back its not good enough nothing is good enough for them u can have a job and everything u need for your kids have a roof over there head and pay bills and the house is clean and they still feel the need to say it aint good enough maybe they need to be in our shoes and then maybe they will see how hard it is its not easy with the enconmy today they need to give people time instead of saying it aint good enough cuz i am getting me a lawyer and getting my baby girl back