One bright Friday morning, Courtney Caddo* took her two daughters, two-year-old Mia and five-year-old Ella, to a park day with lots of other parents and children from their church. While Ella played on the playground, Courtney was at a picnic table visiting with five other parents while Mia played next to her.
At one point, Ella needed some help, so Courtney went to help her on the other side of the playground while the other parents watched two-year-old Mia. While Courtney was helping Ella, she heard a loud wail from the direction of the picnic table and immediately knew it was Mia and that she had gotten hurt.
When Courtney got to the picnic table she found the other parents comforting Mia. They told Courtney that Mia had been trying to climb onto the picnic table bench, had fallen, and had landed on her face. Mia had an abrasion around her eye. Within just a minute or two, Mia had calmed down and started playing again. The other parents all agreed that Mia was going to have a “big shiner” black eye, and one appeared not long after while still at the park.
Through an unfortunate coincidence, just a few days before this, two-year-old Mia had mumbled to a church children’s ministry worker something that sounded like she was saying her mom and dad hit her (Mia also seemed to say that their dog hit her). While Courtney and her husband Andrew did occasionally exercise corporal discipline, it was always reasonable and age-appropriate, and never in excess or in anger. The children’s ministry director discussed all this with Courtney and believed it all to be an innocent comment, if that is even what Mia had said. But when Mia showed up the next week with a black eye, the children’s ministry apparently made a report to child protective services (CPS) without first asking the Caddos to explain the black eye. A CPS investigator called the Caddos the next day.
Andrew and Courtney are members of Heritage Defense, so right after the CPS investigator called, Courtney called the Heritage Defense 24/7 line reserved for members with urgent legal situations. Courtney was connected with a Heritage Defense attorney and explained what happened. Then the Heritage Defense attorney called CPS on behalf of the family, got more details about the allegations, and called the Caddos back to discuss how they wanted to handle the matter.
Witness statements from the other parents who witnessed Mia’s fall may have been enough to close the case. However, due to special circumstances, the Caddos wanted to be extra sure all the allegations would be completely ruled out. They requested to go ahead and allow the CPS investigator to do a home visit, interviews with the children, and interviews with the parents, as long as their attorney could be present (Heritage Defense covers the cost of the attorney being present in person with parents for interactions like this).
The meeting took place the next day with the Heritage Defense attorney present. Everything went smoothly and the family also provided the CPS investigator with statements from the other parents who had witnessed Mia’s fall plus numerous other reference letters vouching for the Caddos’ good character. At the end of the meeting, it sounded like CPS would be closing the case.
Two months later, though, the family had still heard nothing back from CPS. When the attorney contacted CPS to get a letter confirming the case was closed and the allegations were ruled out, CPS said the case was still open and had been reassigned to a new investigator. Now the new investigator wanted to see the children again. Additionally, the first investigator had never gotten the witness statements and other reference letters to the new investigator, so she also wanted those again. The attorney re-sent the documents but politely refused further contact with the family. Thankfully, within just a few days, CPS had closed the case and sent a closing letter to the family.
If you are a member of Heritage Defense, we hope it is an encouragement for you to know that your membership is going to help families like the Caddos. While we cannot guarantee outcomes, if your family is ever falsely accused of child abuse or neglect, we are ready to fight to defend you and your rights.
If you are not yet a member, please join today to have 24/7 access to experienced attorneys ready to defend your family.
*Names changed for privacy