Tuesday, December 09, 2008

California abuse registry remains uncorrected

The LA Times reports:
Child Abuse Central Index offers no way out, even for the innocent

Accused of child abuse by a vindictive ex-girlfriend 22 years ago, Bakersfield stockbroker Scott Whyte ceased contact with their son for years, fearing that another allegation would land him in prison, before a court cleared him.

Craig and Wendy Humphries went to jail after a rebellious teenage daughter fled to Utah and told police there that her father and stepmother had abused her. While the Valencia couple were locked up in Los Angeles County on charges eventually ruled groundless, their two younger children were placed in foster care.

Esther Boynton, a Beverly Hills lawyer who helped Whyte and the Humphrieses fight to clear their names, had her own hellish experience getting off the state's Child Abuse Central Index, a database containing 819,000 names from which even a judgment of innocence isn't enough to secure removal.

Unlike the better-known database created by Megan's Law, which registers and tracks 63,000 named sex offenders, the child abuse index is neither actively managed by the state nor periodically purged of erroneous or unsubstantiated entries -- despite efforts by the wrongly included to escape its shameful stain.

The California Department of Justice has been ordered in at least three court decisions in recent years to create a standard way to remove from the index the names of those exonerated by courts or social service investigations.

But in response to the latest judgment, a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last month that the Humphrieses' privacy rights had been violated, the Office of the Attorney General plans another appeal in defense of the state's handling of the database. ...

"The Humphries have taken advantage of every procedure available to them, including the California courts," Judge Jay S. Bybee wrote in the 9th Circuit Court opinion. "They went to the dependency court, which found that the allegations were 'not true' and returned their children to them. They went to the prosecutor, who dropped all the charges against them. They went to the criminal court, which declared them 'factually innocent' and sealed their arrest records. None of this had any effect on their CACI listing."
The paper could add me to the list of those falsely accused. I am on the CACI abuse registry because of unfounded allegations from Julie Travers and Sally Mitchell. They both presented lies against me in court. When I refuted their lies in court, Cmr. Irwin Joseph announced that he was not relying on the testimony, but that the abuse must stop anyway. (Yes, I know that last part doesn't make any sense, and I have appealed.)

But CPS has arbitrary control over the registry, and there is no way to force them to remove an innocent person. It doesn't matter to them if the accusations were bogus or malicious. CPS takes the position that the registry is just a list of suspects, and it is up to others to determine whether the suspects are guilty of abuse or not.

I am glad to see that the LA Times and the federal courts have recognized the fundamental unfairness of the CACI. It should be abolished. It is just a way for CPS to abuse people without due process.

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