After guard’s sexual abuse arrest, toddler’s overdose death DCFS faces questions from lawmakers

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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – The arrest of a Louisiana man accused of abusing children in his care for several years, linked to a separate case in which a child died after taking three once an opioid overdose, enraged state lawmakers.

“I have a lot of questions and I have a lot of concerns, because it’s the department [that is] responsible for ensuring that our children are safe when they have been placed in already dangerous situations and again it seems like we are letting them down,” said Regina Barrow, (D)-LA.

Barrow chairs the state Senate Select Committee on Women and Children and called on Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) leaders to face the music and answer questions on both cases on Monday, August 8.

Moments before speaking to WAFB on Friday, August 5, Barrow learned disturbing details about the arrest of 52-year-old Michael Hadden.

Hadden was incarcerated at the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail in connection with at least three sexual abuse allegations involving children in his care on Thursday, Aug. 4, arrest records obtained by WAFB reveal. .

The documents detail allegations of rape at a Zachary home. WAFB cameras captured the battered house and a nearby trailer, where Hadden allegedly forced a drunk teenager to perform oral sex on him, and took advantage of another child with developmental delays, among other crimes.

Zachary’s home where alleged sex crimes occurred, according to arrest records.(WAFB)

Although one of the children was briefly removed from the home in early 2021 while DCFS investigated the allegations against Hadden, the child was returned to their custody, according to arrest records.

A DCFS spokesperson did not consent to an interview with WAFB about the case, or explain why the child was returned to Hadden. However, WAFB has received the following written statement from DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters.

“We learned from the media of the horrific allegations involving an individual who was a [caregiver]. Due to privacy laws, we cannot answer questions about a specific case. But it’s important for the public to know that allegations like this involving [caregivers] are extremely rare and are not representative of our [caregivers], most of whom open their homes and dedicate their lives to helping children. All [caregivers] must meet a rigorous standard which includes passing a federal criminal background check, a child abuse/neglect history clearance, and an extensive reference check. On a daily basis, DCFS works hand-in-hand with law enforcement and the courts to make decisions about child safety.

When 9News investigators pressed the agency about how Walters only came to find out the details on Friday, despite his agency being the driving force behind the investigation, a spokeswoman said staff were working on the issue. matter, but had just brought the matter to the secretary’s attention. . The move came on the heels of growing backlash.

“We’ve seen instances where there could have been DCFS intervention where if they would have stepped in, if they would have done certain things, we might not have had a tragedy and that raises a lot of questions.” said Franz Borghardt, a Baton Rouge-area attorney.

The Hadden case comes just days after the Louisiana Office of Inspector General (OIG) began investigating why two-year-old Mitchell Robinson’s past alleged overdoses did not raise a report. with DCFS investigators, and whether that surveillance led to his death.

Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson(Facebook)

Sources familiar with the case tell WAFB that a doctor who treated Mitchell reported the two suspected overdoses to DCFS, but investigators would not move forward with the case without blood tests confirming exposure to the drug. Days later, that doctor called DCFS again with blood work showing fentanyl was in Mitchell’s system, sources said. It is unclear whether DCFS launched an investigation after receiving this report. However, within days Mitchell’s life ended when he had a third overdose.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MITCHELL ROBINSON CASE BY CLICKING THE LINK HERE.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Barrow said. “We have to get to the bottom of it because we can’t keep seeing situations like this happen to our kids.”

As lawmakers and the OIG begin the long process of determining whether policy changes should be made within DCFS, there is growing public outcry for action and accountability.

Borghardt explains, given what is known about the two cases, the criminal charges are not dismissed.

“Before the last two years I might have said no, but what we’re seeing now in 2022 is we’re seeing law enforcement officers in school shootings being prosecuted and investigated in cases where we ask the question, could you have done something and did you act negligently such that your intervention could have prevented some kind of harm Well by that standard if you look at DCFS you can apply the same kind of logic,” Borghardt said.

The hearing at the Capitol is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Monday afternoon.

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