Southern Arizona | Investigating 4 You

N4T Investigators: Abuse of Power – UPDATE

TUCSON – We have a News 4 Tucson investigators follow-up on a case we have been following more than three and a half years.

It involves a Tucson mother who is suing after DCS removed her two young daughters from her home.

But, her ordeal did not end there.

Hidden camera video showing an interaction between that Tucson woman and a DCS caseworker was first brought to light by the News 4 Tucson Investigators back in 2015.

According to court documents, that DCS caseworker was intimate with the mother on three different occasions, and she only went along with it after the caseworker promised it would help her get her children back.

According to those court documents reviewed by the News 4 Tucson investigators, DCS removed the woman’s seven and eight-year-old daughters two days before Christmas 2014.

Tucson Police found marijuana growing in the woman’s home, and though she had a medical marijuana card, she was not allowed to cultivate.

In her lawsuit, the woman claims Tucson Police should never have entered her house in the first place because she had not given them permission.

“When her children were removed for the months that they were removed, it was devastating to her, and it was also devastating for her children,” the mother’s attorney, Michael Garth Moore, told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

Moore is now representing the woman in her case in federal court.

He tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, he understands DCS caseworkers have a difficult job, but that does not mean they are allowed to violate the constitutional rights of parents.

Moore also tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, when he has questioned DCS workers in this and other cases, their responses have been troubling.

“I ask them what training have you had in the constitutional limits of your authority to go into a home and take children and do the things you do? Invariably, they say we haven’t had any training at all. That is a huge failing on the part of the agency,” Moore told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

In this case, DCS ultimately returned the children to their mother within just a few weeks.

“She was able to get her children back because, among other things, there simply wasn’t any evidence that she was a quote-unquote bad mother,” Moore told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

As the News 4 Tucson Investigators first reported, the mother also showed Tucson Police the hidden camera video that she had shot with an iPod during home visits.

The DCS caseworker shown in the hidden camera video was also named as a defendant, but a settlement was reached last May, and he is no longer part of the lawsuit.

The caseworker was never arrested or charged, and he is no longer with the agency.

Moore tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, the case has had a major impact on his client and her children.

“The girls have recovered dramatically from this – top students, very active in school, so in that regard we’re thankful,” Moore told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators reached out to the City Attorney representing the Tucson Police officers. We also contacted the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, who represents the DCS employees who accompanied Tucson Police the day the woman’s children were taken. They all declined our request for comment, as did the attorney for the former caseworker.

Paul Birmingham

Paul Birmingham

Paul Birmingham is an Edward R. Murrow Award winning broadcast journalist and Investigative Producer with the News 4 Tucson Investigators. Paul is a Tucson native, UA graduate, and licensed private investigator.
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