Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dad called "truthful" and "compliant" by DSS worker; Dad then bashes baby's head (St. Joseph, Missouri)

I've seen these cases before. Mom gets blamed for all the abuse in the home, and is so lacking in self-esteem or something, that she accepts full blame. So Daddy (in this case RONNY RATHMAN) comes out smelling like a rose, and DSS is just falling all over themselves on what a good father he is. Then daddy kills the kid. Reminds me of this case from Florida:

Officials visited Rathmans on day of death
Worker noticed nothing abnormal

by R.J. Cooper
Friday, November 27, 2009

A representative from the state’s Department of Social Services visited Donald Rathman and his father the day the infant died, according to documents released Wednesday.

Celesta Hartgraves, deputy director of the DSS Children’s Division, hand-delivered the department’s investigations into Donald’s parents to the News-Press and St. Joe Now on Wednesday. That was in response to an open-records request.

The initial investigation began Sept. 4 when Donald’s parents, Ronny and Angela, took the infant to the emergency room after he fell out of a highchair at Perkins. The infant bruised his head, according to DSS records, from the fall. However, when hospital officials examined the baby, they discovered bruising under both arms that left finger prints and fingernail scratch marks.

Police arrested Angela Rathman, 36, that day and charged her with abuse of a child, a class C felony. Nurses at the hospital did not feel the baby should go home with his father, but Angela Rathman told police she alone was responsible for the abuse.

The Children’s Division representative wrote in the report, “I stated there is no evidence that the father did anything. ... I explained that as the natural parent he has rights to his son.”

In between Sept. 4 and Oct. 8, a representative visited the Rathman house five times — Sept. 8, Sept. 17, Sept. 28, Oct. 2 and Oct. 8.

The report from that first visit reads, “(Ronny) appeared to be very truthful and compliant. I observed that Ronnie (sic) provided adequate care for the children during the visit.”

The Children’s Division worker described the house as neat and tidy with ample food, though that person noted a few roaches in the kitchen. On Sept. 17, the Children’s Division worker examined the baby and saw no visible bruising.

On Oct. 8, the worker noted that Ronny Rathman, 52, was late for the appointment on a misty day. When Ronny Rathman showed up with Donald in a carrier, the worker advised the father to put up the canopy to protect the child from the rain. Donald slept in the carrier for the entire visit, according to the DSS report, and the worker and Ronny Rathman went over five goals for the parents to achieve.

Those included helping Angela Rathman achieve a “stable mental health, positive coping and stress management skills” and “parents will gain knowledge of appropriate childcare and discipline.”

The worker also wrote, “The home was appropriate during this visit and no other concerns were noted.”

Ronny Rathman took Donald to the emergency room later that night. The 7-week-old infant died of head trauma. According to the prosecution and the probable cause statement, the victim’s father allegedly struck the infant’s head multiple times and knocked the boy’s skull into a table.

Police arrested Mr. Rathman that night, and prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder.

“(Ronny) seemed to be doing pretty well with the baby,” Ms. Hartgraves told the News-Press on Thursday. “This is pretty emotional and devastating for our staff, too.”

She added, “It was a terrible, terrible tragedy. ... Unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball. Some of the factors you usually see weren’t there.”

Buchanan County Prosecutor Dwight Scroggins told the court during Ronny Rathman’s preliminary hearing last week that medical information indicated the victim suffered a series of injuries. Donald had multiple fractures in various states of healing, meaning the abuse happened on numerous occasions, according to Mr. Scroggins.