The Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS) is on the defense after accusations that investigators did not do enough to protect a three-year-old boy from sexual abuse.
Earlier this week, a Charlotte woman and her boyfriend were arrested in connection to the physical and sexual assault of a three-year-old boy.
Charlotte police say 23-year-old Shamika Reaves and 32-year-old Corey McCree were arrested Tuesday and charged with felony child abuse. McCree is also charged with first-degree sex offense and indecent liberties with a child.
McCree was indicted on the charges on May 28, in Mecklenburg County.
Around 3:45 a.m., police were called to the Charlotte Express Hotel on the 1200 block of Lucky Penny Street to assist Medic with an unresponsive child. That child was then taken to Carolinas Medical Center with serious injuries.
Hospital staff determined that the child was suffering from non-accidental injuries, including head trauma and evidence of sexual assault. Officials say there was also evidence of older injuries.
According to the search warrant, the couple told police that the boy had ingested incense during the night.
McCree told investigators that he had woken up around 3 a.m. to find the child in the bathroom with the incense, and then woke up Reaves. Reaves then put the boy in his "time-out corner," according to the warrant, and McCree left the room "to smoke marijuana."
When the boy wouldn't stay in the corner, Reaves told police, she used one hand to "shove [the victim] back into the corner." A short time later the boy fell to floor and began breathing abnormally, and Reaves called 911.
Once the boy was taken to the hospital, and evidence of assault was found, police interviewed witnesses at the hotel who reported hearing a loud bump and the child crying between 2 and 3 a.m.
McCree and Reaves both voluntarily went to police headquarters and were interviewed by Youth Crimes Detectives. After the interviews, they were arrested on the charges.
McCree, the warrant states, was also investigated by Charlotte police in 2007 after he was accused of sexually assaulting a then three-year-old boy, and again in 2010 after being accused of sexually assaulting two 14-year-old girls.
DSS released the following statement to WBTV Thursday night:
This case came to the attention of the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Division of Youth and Family Services (YFS), on 10 March 2014. The referral alleged that [the child and] Shamika Reaves, were residing in a home in which another female and her children also lived. The referral alleged that one of the other female's children had been sexual assaulted by that child's grandfather approximately two months earlier and that that child victim had, at some point, sexually assaulted [the child].
On the same day YFS initiated an investigation and contacted the occupant of the home where the mothers were supposed to be living. The referral did not contain a phone number, only an address. Ms. Reaves and [the child] were not at the address but a phone number was provided for Ms. Reaves by the occupant of the home. Ms. Reaves returned the initial message but then broke off the call. Over the next week the investigator made repeated efforts to speak with Ms. Reaves by telephone or in person. Ms. Reaves answered some calls but not all, and on each occasion refused to provide her address. Ms. Reaves also agreed to several scheduled appointments but did not appear for those meetings.
The investigator continued to make efforts to physically locate [the child] and [Reaves] but was unsuccessful until 17 March 2014 when Ms. Reaves responded to a voice message and scheduled an appointment with the investigator. She then appeared with [the child] and Corey McCree at a YFS office. Corey McCree is Ms. Reaves' boyfriend.
The investigator interviewed [the child] about the allegations and he gave contradictory statements regarding whether the other child had touched him inappropriately. The investigator also spoke with Mr. McCree and Ms. Reaves but was unable to reach a conclusion regarding the allegations and advised Ms. Reaves that she would be scheduling a forensic evaluation on the child at Pat's Place Child Advocacy Center. Pat's Place is the only child advocacy center in Mecklenburg County and is frequently used to conduct forensic interviews of children in cases involving YFS or law enforcement. The forensic interview was scheduled for 7 April 2014 but Ms. Reaves did not appear with [the child] for the interview.
Thereafter the investigator made multiple attempts to reach Ms. Reaves. Her telephone number was disconnected. Efforts were also made to find other addresses and to reach out to collaterals that might have information as to her whereabouts. None of those efforts were successful and the case remained open with efforts being made to locate Ms. Reaves and [the child] when the latest report was received on 20 May 2014 that [the child] had been hospitalized. Prior to this report DSS had not had any involvement with, or received any referrals on this child.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (704)334-1600.
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