Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Susannah Frame Hits A Home Run On KING 5 Coverage Of Poca

Investigators: Effort to keep 'Poca' case secret

10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, September 22, 2009


SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. - It's been four-and-a-half months since the day 4-year-old "Poca" hid behind a chair in the place she called home her entire life.

She made it obvious she didn’t want to leave.

That day, armed with a court order, state social workers abruptly removed Poca from her Snohomish County foster parents, Amy and Dick Langley, and her four foster sisters. The Langleys were pegged as troublemakers who complained too much about how Poca’s case was going.

Effects on children moved multiple times
“You would think that as time goes on that the grief would be less and that you would start moving on. It's actually been more. We miss her more,” said Amy Langley. "There's things in our house that are still Poca's. We don't use certain plates, we don't use certain cups, we don't use certain towels. Those were hers. So, it's really hard to have that mother/child bond and not be there every day of her life."

Since Poca was taken away, and put into a new foster home, social workers have let the Langleys visit her once a week. Then - without explanation - those visits were drastically cut to every two or three weeks.

Internationally renowned child attachment expert Deborah Gray says removing a child after all those years is devastating.

"It’s like losing your parents in a car accident, something like that,” said Gray. “They feel at any time, their lives can be torn away from them."


Since the KING 5 Investigators began airing stories about the foster child nicknamed "Poca," the state and other attorneys on the case have been making deals behind closed doors.

She says taking away visits with primary attachment figures can do even more damage, especially if the child may end up going back to that home someday. The head of the Department of Social and Health Services, Susan Dreyfus, has said repeatedly that the Langleys are a viable adoption resource for Poca if they pass an adoption home study.

"If we start making the time frame longer in between visits, then children feel even more acutely abandoned,” said Gray. “And if we look at time frames like three weeks, then that's really too long for a child of this age."

After the KING 5 Investigators started airing stories about Poca - exposing poor practices and errors - it appeared some people didn't want us in the courtroom anymore getting information. Click here to read KING 5's past stories about Poca.

Hearings about children in the system used to be secret proceedings, but now they are supposed to be open to the public.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris, who is presiding over Poca's case, made it especially difficult.

We've found she told the state and other attorneys involved to not give us court dates.

The judge then contacted KING 5 directly.

She yelled at our producer, incensed we were contacting her clerk to ask for court times. That’s a practice the KING 5 Investigators engage in routinely, without problems from other judges or their court clerks.Then she left two long, angry voice mails for our News Director.

Eventually, in a live phone conversation, she promised at least five times that we could get any court date we wanted by e-mail.


Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris left angry voicemails for KING 5, then promised to give us court dates. She never followed through on those promises.That never happened. Since those promises, every one of our inquiries to the court has been ignored.

Sen. Val Stevens sponsored a bill in 2004 that led to opening up hearings about children in the system to the public. She says that's not how the law is supposed to work.

"I can't believe that that's how it's being interpreted. That was not the intent (of the law) and they know it. When there were people in court, it was no longer this star chamber of secrecy and that was my biggest reason (to get the law passed), to hold them all accountable," said Sen. Stevens.

After the judge ignored our inquiries, we were able to get court information from the Director of Communications for the Attorney General’s office in Olympia (see video blog for more).

Also since we began reporting on court proceedings, the state and the other attorneys on the case have been making deals behind closed doors.

They're drafting what's called "Agreed Orders" about what's to happen to Poca, even though last year there was an order from the court prohibiting these deals, which take place without open court hearings.

The judge simply signs off on the Agreed Order: No discussion, no open court, no accountability.

As for Poca and her ties with the people she considered her family, there are no visits currently scheduled with the Langleys.

They check their e-mail time and again, every day, waiting to hear from social workers; waiting to get word if they'll ever see her again.

"That's a bond that can never be broken no matter how long we go without seeing her," said Amy Langley. "Are they going to say, well, now we're done completely? We just don't know."

Update to story: The Langleys have just been notified that their visits with Poca have been cut again. Judge Farris has signed an Agreed Order that they can see her once a month now, for two hours.


Anonymous said...

Judge Farris thrives on removing children without cause. She does ONLY what the State is asking for!! She is NOT the only Judge like that in Snohomish County though. She`s just the worst of the bunch. I guess if the CPS employees aren`t made to follow the laws, somebody should make sure the Judges do.

Anonymous said...

Not one single agreed upon court order in this case has been signed without an open hearing discussing it. Not one single hearing has been closed to the public. The courts have followed all the rules in this case.

Anonymous said...

I have been so disturbed by this story over the past few months. After last night's 11pm newscast, I could not sleep. I am sick over how this poor family's life has been disrupted, especially for this little girl. I cannot imagine the grief, anxiety and thoughts of abandonment that she feels.

Please continue to shed light on those that are trying to conceal what is happening in this case.

Also, please let your viewers/the public know what we can do to further put pressure on the State to remedy this situation NOW and get that little girl back to her family and home.

Thank you for your coverage of this sad, sad story.

Nicole Pendergast

Anonymous said...

The problem here is that Amy and Dick Langley are not worthy to be foster care providers and Poca's attorney stated in court that they should never be allowed to regain custody of her. They had another child, Taylor, in their home who has now been adopted by a wonderful woman, who they claimed to be a foster child but was in reality their adopted child. They decided they didn't want him any longer so they shipped him off to a family farm and then found a way to overturn the adoption. They made false claims that he was violent and that they couldn't control him. I have proof that they did nothing but lie about Taylor and his special needs. These people don't need to raise a dog, much less a child. They might be crying tears for Poca but they didn't shed not one for Taylor. I hope they never get to raise another child out of the foster care system. Oh, and when Taylor's new mom went to take him home with her, Taylor got upset and cried, telling Amy Langley that he wanted to stay with her, his mommy. She said very coldly, "No, I am NOT your mommy." How unloving and uncaring she was towards him!!! I am a strong parental rights advocate and she abused Taylor emotionally, verbally and maybe even physically. She is unfit and I'm glad the court system is noticing that.

strawberryblonde said...

Star Chambers may still be in existence? Bad rubber stampers, bad.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this is a Judge that we can all vote out of office .......Let's not forget her name. Someone needs to check the financial records and see if she has collected money for her bad actions.....

josie said...

Good day Senator: Writing on behalf of www.modelfamily.org this is Josie Perez again. I myself have a friend. Dr. Carol Fritch and her spouse, both Psychologists. Wrote a letter on my behalf of the psychological dangers upon removing a child that was bound to their grandparents, especially when the child was not being abused, abandoned and neglected. Because we, the grandparents gave the judge the letter of expertise, she tossed it to the floor and said she didnt' have time to read it, but was able to read the psychological that was given to her by her chosen agency. That one also said, the same and that me and my husband could provide a safe, nurturing and loving home. The state said no, I was a detriment to the child and she cut me off. This court is a fraud upon justice and this is a game for them, they are not going by any rule of law. This is just a bunch of collegues gathering together upon a case and making some insane, irresponsible, detrimental, insensative, and harmful decisions that effect, the safety and emotional well-being of the children. They don't care about family in those courts only on how the case can be written up to support their manuvering of the children into their permanent care. You go against them, the will do everything to destroy you, and your credibility. They send in the police, internally make child abuse hotline calls on you and continue to write up a totally negative case against you. So when the next judge comes in, they look at you and toss you right out of the courtroom. What can we do to demand a congressional hearing. We demand it, they have plenty of time in congress to listen to judges make statements such as we don't want the grandparents to have the kids either because their kids are bad because they are bad. This agency, and judical entity is corrupted and beyond repair. Families need your help to tell us what we need to do to demand a hearing before the senate committee and demand they start taking action. We are not going to allow this continuance of abuse against the family.

Lovingfitfather said...

Why isn't King 3 exposing CPS fraud against biological family?

Anonymous said...

Just thought I would let you know. All parties to include the Ombudsman office, DSHS, and Constituant Services are refusing to give numbers on relative placement.

Anonymous said...

The comment Josie left scares me. We`ve been told by our attorney that the dept. has us backed against a wall and we have to agree to a psych. evaluation. There is no reason we should have to. We absolutely know they`re up to no good. Mary Meinig herself said our adoption home study is excellent and the person who did it is experienced and credible. Our home study isn`t good enough for the dept. so if we had EVER been offered to do one through them, we know how that would have turned out. We had a meeting with Sandra Kinney on the 24th. The AAG was there and he had the nerve to say that I have made our case complicated and things are taking so long because I`ve got other people involved, meaning Senator Roach. So,in a round about way, he said we are being punished because we want the truth to come out. I kept saying during the meeting that laws were broken when the child was taken, that there was never any abuse or neglect. They didn`t want to discuss what happened 6 months ago. That has nothing to do with anything.
Poca`s bio parents do not have a good "track record" and some issues with them were from as recent as June, according to some reports. What I mean by that is 1 specific report in June, Judge Farris said herself that she felt the parents were not being honest with things. My husband had an issue 18 years old and it was no crime of any type, no drugs, nothing like that at all. The dept. is calling it a track record. Nobody is acknowledging the facts like he`s had the same job for 24 years and we`ve been married for 24 years. Our 3 adult children have turned out very well with never any drug, alcohol or criminal activity. The dept.CAN get screwed. I will talk to anyone I feel I need to. I cannot cower down to them and let them do whatever they want to do. This is affecting a 3 year old girl who can`t speak up and tell anyone what she wants.

Anonymous said...

That Judge and I believe the rest of them dealing with dependency cases in Snohomish County should be investigated but not by somebody the Governor chooses. That is the root of the problem. The Judges are the ones not following the laws. They are not following family laws and in most cases aren`t giving children to relatives when they are removed from their parents. The Everett dept. and especially the Area Administrator does not care about family reunification as she states is the ultimate goal of the department. So it is questionable as to why Poca would go home to her bio parents with their history. They just had a child removed about 3 months ago but of course returned. It is a very clear case of retaliation against the Langleys.

Anonymous said...

Is there nobody in the system who has any compassion for children? How can anyone watch the footage of Poca hiding behind a chair because she doesn`t want to leave the people she loves and not be able to think about what`s best for that child? Yes, children should go home to their parents if the situation allows them to be safe and the parents complete their services within the time frame of the law. Nobody can say with 100% certainty that Poca will be safe given the history of the bio parents and 4 years have passed. Somebody needs to do the right thing and return Poca to the Langleys where there is a guarantee she will have a safe life and no chance of her ending up back in the system.

Anonymous said...

Some of these cases need to be checked out to see what employees in region 3 were involved because some of the same names keep being brought up to me and the cases are similar. One of these people is not only a supervisor over caseworkers but also a placement supervisor for Snohomish County. Ususally the dept. changes the people that were on the case to different people but if some of these were looked into and the subject of why the kids were taken to begin with was to be investigated, I think it would be easy to expose the troublemakers within the department.

Anonymous said...

It`s seems as though the majority of stories I`ve heard about foster parents, relatives and even parents going in front of Judge Farris are told they have some type of issue,usually with no evidence having to be presented, that prevent them from keeping the children in their care. But that Judge yells at people just because the truth is finally coming out? Maybe some anger management classes are in order.

Anonymous said...

Here are just a couple of meanings for the word "honorable". 1. Not deceptive or fraudulent. 2. Adhering to ethical principles. A couple of synonyms are ethical and honest. How can we trust in any Judge that will be deceptive to the media? I don`t believe we can!!
The only reason there would be deception is if something secretive were going on which has already been determined to be true. A dishonorable Judge has no business sitting on a bench making any kind of decision about anything, especially when she is there to uphold the laws.
She is afraid of the truth coming out to the public. TOO LATE!! The fact that she`s been caught in a lie should warrant an investigation into what`s going on with the Judge`s within our Juvenile Justice system. She is NOT the only Judge lying.

Anonymous said...

Everett DSHS needs to be investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. THere are bad things going on in that office. It puts the childrens lives at stake.

It scares me to think that DSHS has no accountability. THey do whatever they please.