Florida February Child Protection News gathered and presented by Dr. Denise R. Womer, Ph.D., is a former law enforcement officer for 17 years and former DCF Investigator for the State of Florida. Dr. Womer has taught in higher education for 14 years and currently is a Professor for Kaplan University teaching in the School of Social and Behavior Sciences.

KARA encourages you to send us your child protection documentaries and videos for consideration on this site.

This powerful piece defines Florida’s current foster care system, and it represents much of what happens throughout our nation today.  Please share it widely as this is important information for millions of children that suffer these failings every day in our nation.

https://vimeo.com/139417634  The password is “foster”

JANUARY 30, 2017

Sexagenarian Sex Offender Arrested for Child Pornography In Sarasota, Florida

The last two days of the month of January 2017 ended with a Sexagenarian sex offender arrested for child pornography in Sarasota Florida. A Sexagenarian is a person who is from 60 to 69 years old. The Federal Bureau of Investigations monitors the internet for child pornography and sex offender activity. A computer can be traced by the IPS address by examining photographs that are downloaded, as well as the exchange of files. Each IPS address is unique to each computer, smartphone, and other similar devices. A 69-year-old, Daniel L. Berry is a registered sex offender and his activities of downloading and searching child abuse and downloading child pornography. When the FBI task force for Child Exploitation contacted Sarasota P.D. A search of his residence revealed a thumb drive with pornography and he was arrested and a bond of $100,000.00 was set. Berry was arrested three years ago, for a similar charge. Watch the video at the following link it is eye opening as well as the article.

Lawyer Hearld (2017, Jan 30). Sexagenarian Sex Offender Arrested for Child Pornography In Sarasota, Florida. Retrieved from http://www.lawyerherald.com/articles/47505/20170130/69-year-old-sex-offender-arrested-for-child-pornography-in-sarasota-florida-daniel-l-berry-fbi-task-force-child-exploitation-ip-address.htm#YdhzVfQCfi2P6iOI.99


FEBRUARY 2, 2017

Collier man accused of child abuse

A 62-year-old Naples resident, John Rigsbee was arrested and charged with child abuse without great bodily harm with no bond set. He had also been arrested in May 2014 for child abuse. He was accused of spraying the child in the face with a cleaning chemical and beating the child with a pistol. It is unknown the relationship between the victim and the accused. DCF authorities took custody of the child.

Lolo, S. (2017, Feb 1). Collier man accused of child abuse. Wink News. Retrieved from http://www.winknews.com/2017/02/01/collier-man-accused-of-child-abuse/



FEBRUARY 2, 2017

Port Charlotte pair accused of hitting child with bucket

A Port Charlotte couple were arrested and charged with child abuse. Carlos Torres and Rhiaine Abernethy both were involved in giving the female victim child a bucket to urinate in. When the child had an accident, the child’s face was pushed in a towel used to clean up the urine, and her head placed in the bucket and slammed several times causing bruising to the head and arms.

NBC News (2017, Feb 2). Port Charlotte pair accused of hitting child with bucket. Retrieved from http://www.nbc-2.com/story/34413235/port-charlotte-pair-accused-of-hitting-child-with-bucket

FEBRUARY 3, 2017

Child Abuse Legal Awareness Leads to an arrest

“It is now mandatory for anyone who suspects abuse to immediately report it to police or the department of children and family. That even goes for tourists”. A caregiver was arrested for not reporting sexual abuse that was occurring when told by the victims. Instead of reporting it, she kicked the perpetrator out of her home. Yet, the abuse continued to occur because she allowed the suspect access to the children in the home. “Cook is being held in the Bay County jail on $50,000 bond. He’s charged with 1-count of Lewd & Lascivious acts, molesting a victim less than 12-years old. Tanner is charged with 1-count of abuse of a child without great bodily harm. She’s free on pre-trial release”

LoCicero, P. (2017, Feb 3). Child abuse legal awareness. Retrieved from   http://www.mypanhandle.com/news/child-abuse-legal-awareness/649018591


Florida mom beats her son for not finishing a project

A Florida mother beat her 4-year-old son leaving bruises on his chest, back and legs for not completing a school project. The mother, Tracy Mathis was charged with aggravated child abuse when police received an anonymous tip from a local church. The child was placed in the custody of his father.

Elsesser, S. (2017, Feb 3). Florida mom beats her son for not finishing a project. Palm Beach Post. Retrieved from http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime–law/florida-mom-beats-her-son-for-not-finishing-project/i3y4Pp3VbJdH1LjrOgoBxL/


Florida woman found passed out with toddler in back seat

The heroine is an epidemic across America and this is not the first case we have heard of a parent was using drugs and passed out in the front seat with a child(ren) in the back. What makes this case worse it was not Bambi Taylor’s children. Taylor 46 years old was watching a friend’s child and decided to take the child for a ride to help fall asleep. We all have done with our children drive and drive, hoping they fall asleep. Yet, the good news is she stopped at a gas station and passed out. Someone called the authorities in Deltona Florida who responded and administered Narcan to save her life from the heroin overdose. The child was returned to the parents. Taylor was arrested and charged with child abuse without great bodily harm.

Elsesser, S. (2017, Feb 3). Florida woman found passed out with the toddler in the backseat. Palm Beach Post. Retrieved from http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime–law/florida-woman-found-passed-out-with-toddler-back-seat/lS6LmLJG5VjJr2oS1jupFK/


FEBRUARY 7, 2017

Florida couple face abuse charges after son found bleeding at mall

When officers arrived at a mall in Miami they were presented with a child shaking, blood on his face, a welt from a belt buckle and a cut on his upper lip. Mariano Pinar, 28, and Dazny Torres, 27, were arrested.

DiPentima, R. (2017, Feb 7). Florida couple face abuse charges after son found bleeding at a mall.  Palm Beach Post. Retrieved from http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime–law/florida-couple-face-abuse-charges-after-son-found-bleeding-mall/Ps3sQVph6v82qtSG8JUzlO/


FEBRUARY 14, 2017

Florida Man Forces Girlfriend’s Son to Eat Feces

A three-year-old is forced to eat his own feces while potty training for not using the toilet. The boyfriend, Don Reinhard was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and battery. A former convicted felon for federal charges of fraud and money laundering charges.

Freund, J. (2017, Feb 14). Florida man forces girlfriend’s son to eat feces. Retrieved from http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/crime/guy-got-so-frustrated-when-his-girlfriends-3-year-old-son-wouldnt-potty-train-he





FEBRUARY 15, 2017

NEW: Discipline or abuse? Riviera man arrested after spanking girl, 5

When a five-year-old was spanked for misbehaving at preschool, Dennis Murdock was arrested for child abuse. The problem with physical discipline is leaving marks or bruises on children. The victim child had bruises on her buttocks and thighs. Murdock’s response to being arrested stated, “he cannot believe it is illegal to whoop (a child)”. When the Mother picked up the child from school she noticed the marks whereby the child was struck with a belt. In Florida, there is a fine line between discipline and abuse. Investigators look at the severity of the injuries, history of injuries to the child.

Hitchcock. O. (2017, Feb 15). NEW: Discipline or abuse? Riviera man arrested after spanking girl 5.  Palm Beach Post. Retrieved from http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime–law/new-discipline-abuse-riviera-man-arrested-after-spanking-girl/jQzbNTiTlkwy8A5JGFZibJ/


UPDATE: Florida teacher cleared after ‘chokehold’ allegations

Previously reported in the January report was the arrest and charges against a Lyman high school teacher, Wilbert DelaCruz. the State Attorney’s office stated, “the student did not suffer injuries and “..while there were concerning marks on the child, the act of a teacher physically disciplining a student is not per se child abuse..”  Read more at the following link.

Wesh News Station (2017, Feb 14). Florida teacher cleared after childhood allegations. Retrieved from  http://www.wptv.com/news/state/florida-teacher-cleared-after-chokehold-allegations

FEBRUARY 16, 2017

Report: Florida toddler dead of starvation also infected from home reeking of dog feces, urine.

Disturbing details laid bare in a 245-page report released by the State Attorney’s Office this week sheds more light on the misery baby Tayla Aleman endured before eventually succumbing to her body’s frail state in April 2016, in Loxahatchee. The 13-month-old child was ill with the flu, E. coli, strep and staph infection in home reeking of dog urine and feces. The E.R. Dr. noted this was the worse starvation case he witnessed, Tayla weighed 7lbs after being born 9lbs.

Alex Alejandro and Kristin Meyer-Alejandro were charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and cruelty to animals.

Neuhaus, L. (2017, Feb 16). Report: Florida toddler dead of starvation also infected from home reeking of dog feces, urine. St. Petersburg Blog. Retrieved from http://saintpetersblog.com/report-florida-toddler-dead-starvation-also-infected-home-reeking-dog-feces-urine/


FEBRUARY 20, 2017

Mother of autistic boy who died last year charged with abuse, neglect. 4-year-old died in November; younger sibling also showed signs of injury.

MACCLENNY, Fla. – Heather Stevenson, was arrested in the death of her 4-year-old autistic son who died last year has been charged with aggravated child abuse and child neglect in connection with her 2-year-old son. The mother’s boyfriend, Johnathan Todd Register, is accused of abusing 2-year-old after sibling dies.

His mother’s boyfriend, Jonathan Todd Register, reported finding Chance not breathing the morning of Nov. 22 and told deputies he performed CPR until paramedics arrived. Chance died at Ed Frasier Memorial Hospital.

Chance’s 2-year-old old brother also was taken to the hospital after investigators saw dried blood on his nostrils. They also saw several healing scabs on his head, blood in his diaper, bruises on his back and stomach and more on his cheek that look like someone grabbed him, the report said.

Register was later charged with aggravated child abuse and aggravated battery in connection to the younger boy’s injuries. According to the original arrest report, investigators found several old injuries on Chance’s body, including bruises on his lower back and upper buttocks, swelling and bruising to his nose, eyes and forehead and a “large cigar-size” burn on his left foot.

Stevenson, 32, told investigators in November that Chance suffered a head injury when he was knocked down a flight of stairs by a dog in October. She said they took him to UF Health, where he stayed for three days. She also said the 4-year-old boy hit his head in the shower recently.

Deputies continued to investigate how Chance died. Stevenson was arrested on Feb. 9 on charges connected to the 2-year-old boy’s injuries. She is held on a $1.5 million bond.

The Florida Department of Children and Families took Chance’s siblings into state custody and opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the child’s death.

Avanier, E. (2017, Feb 20). Mother of autistic boy who died last year charged with abuse, neglect. 4-year-old died in November; younger sibling also showed signs of injury. Retrieved from http://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/baker-county/macclenny/mother-of-autistic-boy-who-died-in-november-arrested-on-neglect-abuse-charges


FEBRUARY 24, 2017

St. Lucie County teacher arrested on child abuse charges

Leah Merrique Germain faces two counts of child abuse and was booked into the St. Lucie County jail after pushing one child to the ground and another grabbed by the neck.  Germain is an 8th-grade teacher at Samuel Gaines Academy. The teacher was recorded on a student’s cell phone, and that student was held down on the ground by the neck while the teacher tried to retrieve the phone. It is unknown if there were any injuries to the children.

Winston, H. (2017, Feb 24). St. Lucie County teacher arrested on child abuse charges.  Palm Beach Post. Retrieved from http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime–law/just-lucie-county-teacher-arrested-child-abuse-charges/HjzVheLwzqfzT32utgnnsI/



Florida child protection investigator arrested for lying in possible sex abuse case

T he DCF Investigator, Brittanee Sharmayne Carter, 27 was arrested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on an arrest warrant. Carter is accused of falsifying records, lying in an ongoing sexual abuse investigation. Carter was charged with two felony counts of altering or destroying the records. An Investigation of sexual abuse to a child, Carter stated she visited the child at an elementary school when in fact, that was falsified.

LES NEUHAUS (2017, Feb 20). Florida child protection investigator arrested for lying in possible sex abuse case. Retrieved from http://floridapolitics.com/archives/232472-florida-child-protection-investigator-arrested-lying-possible-sex-abuse-case



Is there a way to predict child abuse? We use similar technology in policing to predict areas of where crime will most likely occur. Florida was part of a study conducted by SAS Global who developed the innovative software. The study conclusion was delivered to the Florida Department of Children and Families in August 2016. According to Heimpel (2017), Chronicles of Social Change Organization reported the SAS report is one of the most extensive data examination done in Florida on child abuse reports, parents information, child data along with other data to produce a predictive analysis of possible recurring child abuse adults in the cases examined.

In this author’s experience, child abuse and neglect are generational. Many cases I investigated showed 3rd, 4th and 5th generations of abuse and neglect within the families. We need to be proactive to stop the abuse.

Will Jones who is the company’s child wellbeing industry worked on the Florida study.  SAS reported in a slideshow “many of the highest risk perpetrators are young mothers with young children, a history of victimization, and a large number of networked reports in the past” (Heimpel, 2017, p.1).  Their intensive study examined a four-month-old baby who died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome as a case example. Connecting the data revealed child abuse and neglect in the family for 10 years, ie generational abuse.

What SAS has developed is essentially similar put has the power to predict based on risk factors. We already know some factors identified from research that inform us the risks to children of that family for possible maltreatment. For example, some risk factors identified are young teen mothers, children of maltreatment who later become parents, families with multiple maltreatment reports, poverty, the age of the parent, visibility of the child are just a few risk factors. But, what SES is informing us the information we do not know gleaned from an in-depth analysis.

The firm found 42% of 291,499 adults in the study who had one prior child maltreatment report would have another report within 8 to 10 years. Approximately, 10% researchers identified as “chronic maltreatment group” with those in the group who had more than five maltreatment reports. This approach changes the focus to the adults and their behaviors and is an actuarial risk assessment (Heimpel, 2017).

Is using predictive analysis tools ethical when used with child welfare investigations? The determination of what happens with children in cases is the ultimate ethical concerns. If we remove a child from a home that should not have been removed or make mistakes on decisions of child safety that put a child at further risks or even death, then we have allowed technology to overcome human decision making in contrast to agency goals to keep children safe.

Heimpel, D. (2017, Jan 31). ‘Perpetrator’ Networks Key to Predicting Child Abuse. Chronicle of Social Change Organization. Retrieved from https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/news-2/perpetrator-networks-key-predicting-child-abuse/24479


Child Abuse Death Review Committee to examine fatality emergency calls

A total of 931 combined child deaths were reported in Florida in both 2015 and 2016, according to the state’s Child Abuse Death Review Committee (CADR), which met in Tampa Friday to discuss the issue.

Broken down, 474 of those reviewable fatalities were in 2015, with another 457 reviewable notifications made in 2016. More than 200 of those are still open cases — 29 from 2015 and 175 from 2016, per graphs compiled in documents by the committee and released to FloridaPolitics.com.

The committee also released their 2016 annual report recently.

NEUHAUS, L.  (2017, Feb 24). Child Abuse Death Review Committee to examine fatality emergency calls. Retrieved from http://saintpetersblog.com/child-abuse-death-review-committee-examine-fatality-emergency-calls/