Florida Senator Calls for Investigation of Child Abuse Report Against Tiger WoodsWritten by: Paco Print This Article
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As I previously reported in DCF Poaching on the Tiger Woods, Elin Nordegren Kids?, Florida’s Department of Children and Families visited the home of Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren to investigate a child abuse complaint.
Now State Senator Ronda Storms of Florida is calling for an investigation of the complaint that led to this visit. She believes that the complaint was filed falsely and maliciously and if evidence exists to prove this, she wants the Orange County State Attorney to prosecute those responsible for the complaint. She’s concerned that false child abuse reports waste state funds needlessly and take away resources from children who really do need help.
False Child Abuse Reports Seldom Prosecuted
The Sun Sentinal reports that false child abuse reports are seldom prosecuted, leading to a situation in which people believe they can file such reports to attack others without an accountability:
Statewide, prosecutions are rare because authorities have a hard time establishing that people “willingly and knowingly” have provided false information, said Randy Means, executive director of the Orange County State Attorney’s Office.
Generally, false child abuse claims are fabricated by warring spouses in custody battles or “as a means of retaliation,” in some unrelated dispute, according to DCF.
From 2005-08, the department suspected that 400 deceptive abuse reports were filed, according to agency statistics. DCF referred 125 to law enforcement, but only five were prosecuted.
In that same time frame, DCF reviewed 52 cases for potential civil fines but levied none.
“Without self-admission, false reporting can be difficult to prove and weighs greatly on intention,” Sheldon, the department secretary, said in a written statement to the Sun Sentinel.
Storms said she fears that if DCF does not take action in the Woods matter, others may be emboldened to fabricate allegations.
Anonymity Increases Likelihood of False Reports
Most states refuse to release the names of those who have filed complaints to a child abuse hotline. Documents are often redacted and edited to hide this information. This severely hampers the ability of a family who has been wrongly reported to go after the false reporter with a civil suit or action in family law court.
As Richard Wexler, child protection reform advocate and Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, explains:
As long as calls can be made anonymously, there is no way to stop malicious false reports. Such reports do great harm to children subjected to traumatic investigations, sometimes including stripsearches. They also can lead to needless placement in foster care.
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