Friday, March 26, 2010

Custodial dad beats 5-year-old daughter to death; U.S. army say it's okay that they didn't report it (Honolulu, Hawaii)

Outrageous. The U.S. Army is claiming it had "no legal duty" to report child abuse committed by a soldier (a custodial father) to CPS, though Army social workers and military police were aware of it. Meanwhile, dad NAEEM WILLIAMS is charged with murder in the beating death of his 5-year-old daughter. See post above with 2005 article for additional background on this case.

Attorney: Army Has No Legal Duty To Report Child Abuse
Schofield Barracks General Says Army Failed To Prevent Child's Death

POSTED: 5:26 pm HST March 25, 2010
UPDATED: 8:08 pm HST March 25, 2010

HONOLULU -- An attorney for the U.S. Army argued in court on Thursday that Army officials have no legal duty to report child abuse to civilian authorities.

The attorney said the mother of a 5-year-old girl who was beaten to death at Schofield Barracks is not entitled to damages.

The commanding general has said that opportunities were missed that could have prevented Talia Williams' death. Army lawyers said the general fired Schofield Barracks' top child abuse official for not reporting what she knew.

However, the Army's lawyer said the Army should still not be held liable for their mistakes.

Williams died after months of beatings by her father, Army Spc. Naeem Williams, in their military apartment. The abuse was apparently encouraged by her stepmother, Delilah, who confided to Army coworkers that she whipped and beat Talia, officials said. The workers reported it to their boss.

"And she simply failed to report it to the proper agencies," said Mark Davis, the attorney for Talia Williams' mother, Tarshia Williams.

That was one of several missed opportunities to save Talia Williams, according to the investigation by Schofield commanding Gen. Benjamin Mixon. He found that several times over five months, Army social workers or military police failed to pass concerns about Williams' safety to the state Child Protective Services, an apparent violation of state law.

The Army's attorney argued in federal court that her family cannot sue the government.

"I don't think they had an obligation," Army lawyer Thomas Helper said.

Judge Alan Kay pointed out that the law considers them mandated reports of abuse.

However, Helper argued, "It's crucial to limit how far you are going to spread liability."

"That's the argument, and we thing that if a ruling like that were to come down it would simply gut the effectiveness of the entire child protection bureaucracy," Davis said.

If the Army's argument wins, even though the Army admitted its child protection rules were violated, Tarshia Williams will not receive damages for her daughter's death, Davis said.

"It's a system of fundamental accountability that holds them responsible to the victims that are harmed," he said.

Kay said he will rule later.

Meanwhile, Naeem Williams faces a murder trial that could lead to the death penalty. Delilah Williams pleaded guilty. She is serving 20 years in prison.