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Part I

View Case Study (PDF)

Borough: Bronx
Type of Report: Initial
Source of Report: Social worker, Douglas Hospital
Date of Intake: 7/16/07
Date of Initial Home Visit with Subject: 7/17/07
Date Source Contacted: 7/17/07

Current Allegation: Inadequate Guardianship

Adults: Anne Taylor M, b. 5/11/75, mother
Peter M, b. 11/9/69, father
Children: Thomas, b. 3/15/01
Megan, b. 2/20/04

Allegation: Social worker from the hospital that treated Ms M. for injuries resulting from the beatings inflicted on her by her husband during their vacation in Jamaica is concerned about mother’s capacity to care for and protect children.

Children were present during father’s attacks on their mother.

Family Background

Anne M. is 32 years old woman employed for the past year as a secretary, earning about $30,000 a year. She has been married to Peter M. for 7 years. They have two children, Thomas, aged 6, and Megan, aged 3. Peter is an insurance agent who earns approximately $70,000 a year. Peter and the 2 children are all U.S. citizens. Anne, who was born in Jamaica, is a permanent resident of the US. Peter’s family is also from Jamaica, but he was born in the City. They are both Episcopalians. Since the DV incident and subsequent return to the States, Mr. M. has been living in an apartment he co-owns with his mother in Brooklyn.

There was no prior ACS contact with this family, but a search of Domestic Incident Reports at the Police department revealed two prior domestic violence incidents in which Mr. M. was named as the suspect in 12/2002 and 10/2003.

Current Investigation

In the morning of 7/17 child protective service (CPS) worker left phone messages for both Mr. and Ms M. stating her name, contact number, agency, and need to schedule an appointment. Mr. M. returned the call at 2:00PM. When the CPS said she was conducting an investigation, he asked what the investigation was about and whom did it involve? The worker responded that she represented ACS and it was necessary for her to meet with him to discuss some safety concerns involving his children, Thomas and Megan. He explained that he was now living in Brooklyn, but he could be in the Bronx on Friday and agreed to a morning appointment at the worker’s office.

Since Ms. M. did not return the call, the CPS made an unannounced visit to her apartment at 6:00 PM on 7/17. She was not at home, but the super agreed to take an envelope for her and said she should be home in 15-20 minutes. The worker waited and Ms M. and the children appeared shortly. When the CPS explained the purpose of her visit, Ms M. said she was planning to get the children dinner at Burger King and then go to Mr. M.’s apartment with the assistance of the police to serve her husband court papers for a temporary Order of Protection. She asked if the interview could take place at the restaurant. The worker replied yes, but a home assessment would have to be scheduled for the following day. Ms M. said she was very nervous about losing her job, but agreed to a 6:30 AM home visit on 7/18.

Subject’s Account of Allegation

Ms M. said her husband inflicted bruises on her on 7/10 in the presence of the children during their vacation in Jamaica. When the CPS asked what was going on between her and her husband when this incident occurred, Ms M. explained that an old friend of hers called the week after they arrived and offered to show the family around. Her husband gave the friend directions to the house where they were staying, but when he arrived, Mr. M. said he didn’t want to go and offered to stay home with the children. They were gone for about 3 hours, but when they returned her husband pulled the friend out of the car and assaulted him. He was then arrested and stayed one night in jail.

Several days later they got into an argument because he left no money for her when he went out alone, although he knew she needed to buy food for the dish she was cooking, and she was counting on his taking the children with him. When he came back, she yelled at him; he then came at her with a closed fist, saying he saw her friend’s car waiting outside. He punched her repeatedly in the face, neck, shoulders and arms as he was shouting, “You’re making a fool out of me” and “You ruin my vacation.” She realized she was bleeding all over and there was blood on the walls and the floor. When she went into the shower, he continued punching her. He finally left, saying he was going to kill her friend.

She tried to call the police by dialing 999, but got no response so she ran with the children to an upstairs apartment. He came back and was banging at the door with a brick so she decided to open the door before he got any angrier. She saw a knife in his pocket, but he saw the one she was holding. When he yelled, “let’s go at it,” she dropped her knife.

Her husband picked the knife up and held her in a choke hold while the children were screaming. He then became very frustrated with the children, screaming at them to shut up. When they did not stop, he took off his belt and started hitting them very hard. She tried to stop him from beating the children by jumping in front of them where she was hit across the back, neck and waist with the belt.

At that point the police arrived, alerted by a neighbor that it sounded like someone was trying to kill a woman. The police reportedly told her that if she had her husband arrested, she would be too because it takes two people to fight. They also told her if she wanted to press charges, she would have to stay in Jamaica to present evidence, they didn’t know for how long.

She was able to get a flight to New York City for herself and the children early the next morning, 7/15. That evening she sought medical attention for herself and the children. The triage nurse in the ER called the police who interviewed Ms M. and the children and observed the bruises. However, they said they could just keep a note on file. Because the incident occurred out of the country, they could not arrest Mr. M. They told Ms M. she should go to Family Court and get an Order of Protection for herself and the children.

On 7/16 Ms M. went to Family Court and obtained a temporary Order of Protection for the children, herself, the children’s day care provider, baby sitter, and various family members.

Initial Home Visit

At the home visit, it was clear that this 2-bedroom apartment was clean, well organized and furnished, with plenty of food in the refrigerator, locks and guards on the windows, and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Ms M. was able to show the worker the children’s vaccination records and said the children have no special medical or mental health needs. Since the children share a twin bed in the 2nd bedroom, the worker explained why this was not a good idea and said she would help Ms M. get a set of bunk beds for the children.

The worker looked at the medical report Ms M. was given. The doctor wrote that Ms M. had a perforated ear drum with nerve damage, possibly resulting in some hearing loss, as well as bruises over her right eye requiring some stitches.

The CPS worker observed the children for marks and bruises. Both of the children had visible welts on their backs and arms. Thomas reported that “daddy hit me hard there, and it still hurts. When I was going upstairs, daddy hit me on the back and I was crying so he hit me again.” Megan said, “daddy hit me right there,” pointing to the welts on her arm, “daddy did it.” When the CPS asked her if she could tell her what happened, Megan put her hands over her ears and said, “don’t talk, don’t talk.” Ms M. described her fear about her husband entering the apartment, explaining that before entering the apartment she leaves the children standing at the front door and dials 911 on her cell phone; she leaves the number on ready, so it can be pushed in an emergency. She then does a walk through of the apartment to insure her husband is not there.

Safety Plan

The worker discussed safety plans with Ms. M. She recommended that Ms. M. gather all vital documents in one safe place, pack a change of clothes for her and the children, have sufficient cash available in case she has to move in a hurry, and identify a place she can go unknown to her husband. Ms. M. agreed to these suggestions, saying she will request the assistance of a friend she has known for many years and will arrange a code word so others will know to call the police immediately if she calls and is in danger.

Ms. M. had already obtained an Order of Protection, but since she had difficulty serving him, the worker suggested she hire a process server.

Ms. M purchased new locks for both doors and requested help in getting them installed. The worker agreed to this, but suggested she might want to explore the possibility of other apartments with her landlord. Ms M. said she is not willing to do that at the moment because she likes the apartment and the community and feels safe once she enters and locks the door from the inside.


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