Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Abducted Tenn. Baby's Mom Getting Kids Back

A Tennessee mother who almost was killed by a woman who attempted to kidnap her newborn child has been cleared by Tennessee child welfare officials of anonymous charges that led to her other children being taken away as well. Associated Press reports as follows on the bizarre allegations of which the mother was cleared.

"A mother will be reunited with her newborn son after losing him twice, first to a kidnapper and then to state custody after someone claimed a family member had tried to sell him.

Infant Yair Anthony Carillo is no longer in state custody and authorities do not believe parents Maria Gurrolla and Jose Carillo were involved in the abduction, the Department of Children's Services and Nashville police said Tuesday.

Maria Gurrolla lost custody of Yair and his three siblings after the baby was found safe in Alabama. Two officials familiar with the case, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it, said the state took the children after someone claimed a family member had tried to sell the baby."

The only disturbing note to the report was the promise that the child would be returned "as soon as logistically possible". I can think of few priorities higher than returning wrongfully taken children.

Most states encourage the public to report child abuse. There are hotlines with legal and logistical shields for the anonymity of those who report allegations.

There are many real cases that have been cracked with this array of tools to fight abuse. Sometimes, other measures short of removing a child address a troubling situation.Unfortunately, there are scoundrels who abuse the system. Bitter divorces often spark allegations that have nothing to do with concern for the child and everything to do with hatred of one's spouse. People with a grudge against a neighbour can turn his or her family into a cauldron of turmoil and silently watch the drama unfold as an anonymous "tip" wreaks havoc in the life of their enemy.

Child welfare agencies are critical in protecting our most vulnerable citizens. We need them as much as we do police and fire departments. But there are consequences to false reporting, whether it be the abuse of a child or another crime in progress. When investigators are forced to follow up on a false allegation, resources that could be focused on genuine instances of abuse are diverted. This could actually cost lives.

Maria Gurolla, who was almost killed by a kidnapper who coveted her child would have faced enough emotional healing after the trauma she has endured. The rest of the family, including some who were present at the time of the kidnapping are also going to face a lengthy process of emotional healing. The aftermath of this particular crime in which the family was separated under a cloud of public suspicion multiplied exponentially the initial trauma of kidnapping and attempted murder.

Who called in the report that traumatised Maria Gurolla, her husband and children? What was their motive? Was it mere misperception or something more sinister? Child welfare authorities had to sort through baseless allegations in order to clear a family that had already suffered unimaginable horror.

Common decency would require that the person or people who accused Ms. Gurolla of wanting to sell her child should be investigated thoroughly. If malice rather than misguided concern was at the root of the allegation of abuse, then the person who reported it should be prosecuted. additionally, they should be held civilly liable.

Unfortunately, in most states this is not possible. Concern for children, laudable in and of itself is a secure refuge for scoundrels. This is a legal inequity that cries out for redress. Those who make false abuse allegations for malicious purposes should face hard time. How does one draft legislation that protects good faith reports that prove to be unfounded? There are injuries which one must now report such as spiral fractures and injuries not associated with a fall or rough play. Some such injuries often have innocent explanations. Loud arguments heard through apartment walls can be misconstrued. You do not want to discourage reports that are made in good faith. But false reports that are willfully made with malice as their motive are abusive and criminal, not only to the subject of the report but to other children in danger from whom investigative resources have been diverted.

My heart goes out to Maria Gurolla and Jose Carillo as well as their four children. I hope they get all the help they need in recovering from all they have been through. The person accused of the kidnapping and attempted murder will face justice. I wish I could say the same for those who accused them of trying to sell their child. If this case sparks a second look at anonymous reporting, then the suffering of the Carillo family will not have been in vain. Sphere: Related Content

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