Monday, July 18, 2022

Ohio 10-Year-Old Rape Horror Spotlights Child Protection Agencies and Lack of Transparency


(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

The tragedy of the 10-year-old rape victim in Columbus, Ohio, should lead news organizations to look into how the Franklin County Children Services (FCCS) and Columbus Police are handling the case. Illegal alien Gerson Fuentes is currently being held in jail on a two-million-dollar bond and police say he confessed to the crime. But since this story broke, one of the only news stations digging into what happened in the child’s home is Telemundo. They are now reporting that the mother of the child was living with the accused rapist, and she believes he is innocent. She now denies that she made the DCS report against the man, contrary to the Columbus Police narrative.

The Columbus Dispatch initially reported, “Columbus police were made aware of the girl’s pregnancy through a referral by Franklin County Children Services that was made by her mother on June 22, Det. Jeffrey Huhn testified Wednesday morning at Fuentes’ arraignment.”

According to an interview with Telemundo, the mother says she did not report the rape, which should raise more than a few eyebrows: “Telemundo News confirmed with two people who know [the child’s mother], who confirmed she is the girl’s mother.” The witnesses also told Telemundo the woman is in a relationship with Fuentes and was interviewed at his home address, where she apparently lives with the victim and her other children. “Everything they are saying against him is a lie,” the unnamed mother told Telemundo. PJ Media reached out to Columbus Police requesting the official police report and was denied. We were told “the initial report for this investigation was initiated by a mandated reporter and therefore is not subject to release pursuant to ORC 2151.421,” and the records will not be released until after a conviction.

Presumably, the mother of the victim is not a mandated reporter. It is unclear why the court testimony said the report was generated by the mother, but CPD told PJ Media it was generated by a mandated reporter. So far, no Ohio officials are willing to clarify this inconsistency.

Further, the termination of pregnancy report filed by Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who performed the abortion, listed the rapist as approximately 17 years old. Fuentes is 27, according to the court record. Someone isn’t telling the truth. How did that number get on that form and why?

NewsBusters’ Jorge Bonilla raised the question, asking if there is a dependency case connected to this family, which would indicate that DCS is investigating the mother. Without a family name, there’s no way for reporters to check. Hopefully, Telemundo will follow up, since they know her identity. If we find out if a case was filed and on what day, we can determine whether the county is following its own rules and confirm that the multiple children in the home are safe.

Franklin County FCCS told PJ Media on July 15 that they forwarded our FOIA request for information to their legal department. On Monday, July 18, PJ Media reached out to Kate Congrove in the legal department to follow up and was told our request never made it to her office. In response to our question asking if the children in the household were taken into state custody on June 22 when one of the children was found to be pregnant, she responded, “I don’t have that information. I would have to check and see.”

About an hour later, we received this reply from Franklin County FCCS, not from their legal department but from an administrative assistant named Vanessa Lichtensteiger.

We have received your request for information, (included below) and additionally you asked whether the agency had custody of the youth you make reference to in the questions below. Thank you for your inquiry.  Children Services agencies are prohibited from sharing case specific information pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Sections 2151.421, 5101.13 – 5101.134, 5153.17 and Ohio Administrative Code Section 5101:2-33-21.

Phone calls made to follow up on this statement were not answered. It is highly unusual for a county agency not to answer either yes or no to the question “Do you have custody of these children,” especially in a high-profile case like this one, after being hit with media requests for the better part of a week. I asked Congrove if the county had put together a statement about this case for the public, and she responded, “No. And I apologize that at this time, I don’t have a comment for you.” Normally, a county office would make a statement assuring the public that protocols are being followed and the child is safe.

Reporters are trying to determine if the child may have been given back to her mother, who was living with the alleged rapist after the report of rape was made and before the alleged perpetrator was arrested. If that is not the case, authorities should clarify it immediately. The public has a right to know if Ohio’s child abuse protocols were followed and if government agencies have acted in the interest of the child and any other children in harm’s way.

When there is a rape of a child that is confirmed by pregnancy, it is unheard of for that child to remain in the home during an investigation. PJ Media spoke to two sexual abuse nurses from states outside of Ohio who said a child in that situation should not have been released home from the hospital where she was seen for the abortion. The public should demand to know what happened here because it’s their tax dollars paying for these agencies, and if the agencies are failing sexually abused children, the taxpayers have a right to know and demand changes.

Other questions should be answered as well. Has anyone checked the DNA of the children in the home against the mother? Are they even related? Could the children be unaccompanied minors who were placed in that home? There are so many dangers that unaccompanied minors face in this country, which is why our immigration policies are so bad for the children caught in them. The Department of Health and Human Services openly admits that children are trafficked here from South America for the sex trade, among other horrors. Are these children some of them?

Across the globe, traffickers buy and sell children, exploiting them for sex and forced labor, and moving them across international borders. Child victims are trafficked into the United States from Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe [emphasis mine]

If they’ve acted competently, what’s the excuse for Franklin County FCCS not updating the public for five whole days as this story roiled the national press? This is the exact problem that caused the confusion over this story in the first place—officials, reporters, and others refusing to respond to press inquiries. Ann Coulter has a theory, and it has to do with media and government agencies hiding the crimes that illegal aliens commit on American soil from the public. This was a massive issue in the 2016 election:

While that is a possible factor here—the entire mainstream press called Fuentes a “Columbus man” instead of an illegal alien from Guatemala—there is also the possibility of government incompetence. Child protective agencies drop the ball all the time when it comes to sexually abused children, a fact I have reported on relentlessly for the last decade. These agencies are sometimes weaponized against parents for no reason at all, like Adam Lowther in New Mexico, against whom there was no evidence of any abuse yet he lost his children for almost a year. Meanwhile, other children who are clearly abused are neglected by agencies, like Caroline Less’s child, who had more than 11 sexual abuse reports filed by mandated reporters — which were completely ignored by the Missouri courts. That child is still forced to have overnight, unsupervised visits with the man she has accused of abusing her since she was five years old. She is now 11. In her case, the courts ignored therapists, doctors, teachers, social workers, and many others trying to alert the state to the danger the child is in.

Missouri attorney Kristi Fulnecky told a local radio station about one of the cases she was working on that involved child abuse allegations. “In my case, there were numerous hotline calls… by multiple sources, not just the mother, and they still didn’t believe it,” she said.

Missouri DSS also failed Christian Ferguson, whose father was just convicted of first-degree murder. Social workers, Judge James Frawley, and the child’s guardian ad litem Nathan Cohen did not take his mother’s claims of abuse seriously and failed to keep him from the man who eventually murdered him.

Thomas Valva was forced to sleep in a garage in the New York winter, and social services knew about it. His mother pleaded with them to remove the child from the abusive home of his father and they failed to do so. Thomas didn’t survive.

New York state’s Office of Children and Family Services recorded a complaint about a child being forced to sleep in the garage at NYPD officer Mike Valva’s house in 2019 — the same garage where the cop and his fiancee are accused of freezing-to-death another son — but Suffolk county child protective services ‘determined it to be “unfounded,” according to internal records reviewed by The Post.

These stories are not unique, nor are they rare.

The government “protection” agencies we have in this nation do a terrible job of protecting children who need help. The Ohio case may once again reveal the problems no one seems to want to solve inside these bureaucracies. Media outlets that are now looking into this story (finally) need to hound Franklin County FCCS and the Columbus Police for answers about the timeline of events and what has been done to protect not only the child who was raped but the other children in that home. And they need to do it now, before another tragedy strikes.

A full-scale investigation of Franklin County FCCS’s handling of this case, as well as a spot check of whatever else they’re involved in, with a full report made to the public, should be the next item on Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s to-do list.

As usual with a developing story, what we know today may radically change by tomorrow. It is in good faith to ask these questions of the people who should be protecting Americans under the rule of law and seeking justice for the abused and vulnerable. Are they doing that? It is and always has been the media’s job to scrutinize them and find out when they are failing the citizens, so the people can make necessary changes in leadership. It is not the media’s job to repeat political talking points uncritically without any concern for underlying truths.

Here at PJ Media, we root out those underlying truths. If you appreciate what we do, become a VIP member for access to exclusive content and even more honest reporting.