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Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network.
To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 206-1942.

Posted On: February 27, 2014

MASSACHUSETTS DCF AND THE DESTRUCTION OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

Yesterday, we began discussing the saga of the Pelletiers and the horror show we call the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”). In short, the medical treatment and fate of their 15-year-old daughter (the “Child”) is at issue. The Child has been taken away from her parents (the “Family”) because there was a disagreement as to what disease the Child has. The Family has faith in an expert physician in the field who had been treating the Child for some time.

Unfortunately, Boston Children’s Hospital (“BCH”) staff disagreed with said expert as well as the hospital which HAD been treating the Child, Tufts Medical Center. Because the Family wished to follow the advice of the original doctor, BCH decided to cut off the expert and the Family from the Child. They brought in their good friend DCF to make sure that the Family’s wishes and beliefs could be disposed of like the left-over trash in the hospital cafeteria.

Over the past year, the Child has remained under DCF control and, last week, the Boston Juvenile Court ordered that not only could DCF and BCH continue its destruction, but that the Child would now be moved to foster care since, as described above, the Family could not be trusted.

Despite the fact that its chosen treatment course seems to be failing because the Child’s health is declining, DCF apparently remains at the helm of the sinking medical ship.

It may interest you to know that the Family and the Child actually live(d) in Connecticut. Any Probate Court judge who handle issues of custody between parents every day, can tell you what it takes to remove a child who lives in one state and transfer custody so that the child will live in another state. In short, a great evidentiary showing is necessary.

Apparently that only applies to parents and families. As one can see, when DCF desires the move…well, it does not seem to take very much.

Given the great deference that the court shows DCF, I started to doubt myself and all my experience in these matters and tried to see it from the other side. After all, it can’t be that our society believes that what DCF is supposed to do is unimportant, right? I mean…these are our children! What can be more important than that, right?

So, let’s ignore this unfortunate tale of what appears to be court-sponsored child abuse. Instead, let’s check other news. Maybe we will get a better view and maybe even some hope for the agency and its victims...I mean clients.

Hmmm…

Well, here is a story from earlier this week. It seems to deal with one of those experts in whom DCF places its faith. He is Kenneth Edwards, of Dorchester. Mr. Edwards is a DCF-approved therapist…although he is unlicensed as a therapist, social worker or psychologist.

Well, that’s just a technicality, I am sure. Let’s look at the man himself...aside from what qualifications he may or may not have.

Uh-oh.

He seems to have had a few criminal justice-type problems. His rap sheet includes motor vehicle and firearms charges. More recently, he has been serving time for kicking his pregnant wife. This week, he faced sentencing for another felony…sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy.

Apparently, DCF trusted Mr. Edwards so much that it actually placed the child with him. When the abuse was occurring, the child is said to have repeatedly appealed for help from DCF to help him.

According to sources, those appeals were denied. After all, as DCF is said to have explained to the boy, no one would believe his story due to the boy’s history of behavior problems, prosecutors said in Superior Court filings.

Mr. Edwards was sentenced to 10 years for his most recent case. There is no word as to whether he will be continuing his non-certified counseling for DCF when he get out of custody.

Oh…look! Remember the case of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver of Fitchburg? He is the child who was placed in a trusted foster home by DCF and then, apparently, forgotten about. He went missing months before DCF, who was supposed to check on him monthly, even found out he was missing. Now, many months later, he is still missing and presumed dead.

Remember there had been all this press coverage about the situation and DCF boss Olga Roche was made to answer tough questions? As I recall, she went with the “lone rogue bad apple” explanation that only a few caseworkers were at fault and that, other than that, DCF was doing a dandy job.

In fact, she gave testimony last month that all 36,000 Bay State kids under DCF’s care were safe and sound. The testimony was to lawmakers at a January 23rd hearing.

Well, it turns out that 10 days prior to that hearing a contractor for DCF filed a missing person’s report for another missing teen. That teen was missing during the hearing. Ironically, because of the media coverage today when it came to light, which one would imagine upset DCF, the child was found today. Amazing that a little press can do what the experts (DCF) cannot.


Well, maybe the questions to the DCF boss was kind of vague and so it was they were misunderstood, right? I mean, she would not lie under oath would she?

Not so vague, really.

State Representative David Linsky, chairman of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, asked Ms. Roche, “Can you give me and the other 6 million people of the Commonwealth the assurance that you know that every single one of those 36,000 children in your care today are present, alive and healthy? Can you give me that assurance that there’s no other Jeremiah Oliver out there today?”

The answer was “Yes”.

“You are 100 percent confident?” the Natick Democrat pressed.

“Yes, sir,” Roche replied.

Maybe she was not lying. Perhaps she was simply out of touch. In that case, I wonder what else she does not know.

Well, anyway, that is DCF in the news this week, so far. Not so uplifting after all.

This is the agency which gets to decide which kids to rip away from their families, for whatever reason, and throw them into the clutches of the apparent unknown.

I’ve got to wonder what it will take for Massachusetts citizens to wake up to the abuses of the DCF nightmare and force the necessary fundamental change.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Another View Of A Near-Hopeless Situation


“Sam, what do you mean about forcing the ‘necessary fundamental change’ “

One of the primary reasons for these Attorney Sam posts is to get the news out as to the realities of our criminal justice and DCF systems and the risk in which they currently place each and every one of us.

Once people understand...and hopefully care...maybe we can force change through the exercising of the Constitutional rights which appear to be of little interest to those in power.

A small example of how bad the situation is?

How about the 15-year-old Child who will now be wasting away in a foster home, her health declining and separated from the Family on the basis that DCF, not the Family, gets to choose which medical advice to follow? Yes, the very same DCF all these other stories, and more, are about.

On the other hand, perhaps this is all just a misunderstanding. Maybe my shock and anger with DCF is based upon what I think its title signifies. The agency, a few years back, was called the Department of Social Services. During the debacles of that time, DCF changed its name to the Department of Children and Families…perhaps thinking the name change would solve the problems.

It didn’t. But I digress.

Given the realities of DCF, it may well be that the goals of the agency are simply misunderstood. I am assuming that being known as the Department of Children and Families means that the agency means to help children and families. Given what we are seeing on a daily basis, perhaps it is really devoted to fighting and destroying children and families.

If that is the case, I guess I cannot call DCF incompetent anymore and I apologize for the misunderstanding.

To read the original stories upon this blog is based, please go http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/02/24/parents-justina-pelletier-upset-after-learning-teenager-will-now-sent-dcf-foster-care-advocates-say/r6TKrvmVGf2lxmHgQKZC6O/story.html, http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2014/02/dcf_teen_missing_when_olga_roche_claims_kids_safe , http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2014/02/unlicensed_dcf_approved_therapist_faces_teen_sex_assault and http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2014/02/dcf_contractor_abuse_victim_he_nearly_destroyed_my_life