Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Big surprise...Judge rules in favor of DHS in wrongful-death lawsuit; they gave abusive, drug-dealing dad custody--one month later, he beat to death 5-year-old daughter (Chandler, Oklahoma)

Once again, the notoriously father friendly CPS gives an abusive father custody--and then the predictable happens. He beats the child to death less than a month later. And then, what do you know. A judge won't hold these bozos responsible for their actions. Who didn't see that coming....

The killer custodial dad is SEAN DEVON BROOKS. He's on the Killer Dads and Custody list for Oklahoma.

Posted June 1, 2015 - 12:07pm

Judge rules in favor of Oklahoma Department of Human Services in Serenity Deal wrongful-death lawsuit

By Nolan Clay The Oklahoman (TNS)

A judge has found in favor of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in a wrongful-death lawsuit, ruling the agency is not liable for the murder of Serenity Deal in 2011.

Serenity’s maternal grandparents, Charles and Annette Deal, of Chandler, appealed the decision Wednesday to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Serenity is the 5-year-old girl whose murder by her father in June 2011 led to widespread public outrage toward DHS. The longtime DHS director, Howard Hendrick, stepped down in 2012 after public confidence in his leadership fell because of child deaths.

Her father, Sean Devon Brooks, beat her to death in June 2011, less than a month after she began living with him full time at his Oklahoma City apartment at the recommendation of DHS workers.

She had been in a foster home.

Two workers were charged

DHS fired two Pottawatomie County child welfare workers over her death. The two had pushed for the girl to be placed with her father even though she had been injured twice during overnight visits with him in January 2011.

The two workers, Jennifer Shawn and Randy J. Lack, later were charged with suppressing evidence from Serenity’s judge. Both pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor offense and were put on probation. Serenity’s grandparents and her imprisoned mother, Samantha Deal, sued DHS and the two fired workers in 2013 in Pottawatomie County District Court. A district judge from Payne County took over the case after Pottawatomie County judges removed themselves from presiding over the lawsuit.

At a hearing May 7 in Stillwater, Judge Phillip Corley threw out all the claims against DHS “as a matter of law.” The judge at the same hearing did find against Shawn and Lack. How much in damages they will be ordered to pay will be determined later.

DHS attorneys raised a series of legal arguments against the claims. Most notably, they argued DHS cannot be held “vicariously liable” for the actions of employees that were “in direct violation of agency policy and were ultimately found to include criminal conduct.”

The grandparents’ attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to reverse the judgment in favor of DHS “because it is contrary to law.” They have raised seven issues where the judge may have erred.

Serenity’s father, Brooks, 35, is serving a life sentence in prison for first-degree murder. The former motel clerk admitted in his guilty plea in 2011 that he beat his daughter on the head.

DHS became involved in Serenity’s care after her mother was accused in 2009 of molesting a boy. The mother eventually went to prison in 2011. She is still in prison.

Brooks had not known he was Serenity’s father until she was 3.

In termination papers, DHS said its two workers failed to fully check the father’s background, which included times when he had been violent.

Records showed DHS never contacted the mother of Brooks’ three other children until after Serenity died. That woman, Brooks’ ex-girlfriend, has said she would have warned DHS workers that she considered Brooks too violent to be around their children. She also has claimed he “sold drugs the entire six years she was with him,” records show.

Case against workers

In the criminal cases, the two workers were accused of suppressing evidence from the judge that included a hospital photo of Serenity taken after one of the visits with her father in January 2011. The photo showed her with a swollen and bruised face and two black eyes.

Both Serenity and her father said he dropped her accidentally. DHS workers accepted that explanation.

Pottawatomie County District Attorney Richard Smothermon said in 2012 that the judge never would have placed Serenity with her father if the judge had seen that evidence.

“There is no way that this child fell out of a car seat. And anybody, without any bit of education, can tell that his story was just not true. This child was beaten. They never provided that to the court,” Smothermon said in 2012.

Another DHS child welfare worker — who had had concerns about the father and who had urged caution — committed suicide a month after her death.