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Published: Wednesday, 12/18/2002

Abuse monitoring revised

Lucas County Children Services caseworkers responding to child abuse or neglect cases won't leave hospitals until they've talked with law enforcement officials, the agency's executive director said.

The procedural change was implemented yesterday because Toledo police apparently weren't notified of a recent child-abuse case until after the toddler died.

Collin Fowler, 14 months, of North Toledo, died of head injuries Sunday in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center after allegedly being shaken violently Friday. His mother's boyfriend, Brandon Batdorf, 20, of 5315 Lewis Ave., Lot 4, was charged Sunday with involuntary manslaughter in the death.

“Apparently there has been some snafu. Where the snafu happened, I don't know,” said Dean Sparks, executive director of children services. “It looks like a mistaken assumption.”

Police said they would have liked to have been involved in the investigation from the beginning instead of more than a day later.

“We would have had an opportunity to talk to the suspect earlier,” Lt. Rick Reed said.

Mr. Sparks said two caseworkers went to the hospital Friday after the agency was notified of the boy's injuries. A hospital chaplain told them a lieutenant was there and had talked with the family. Officials do not know who the lieutenant was.

On Sunday, caseworkers asked a doctor if the suspect had been arrested. The doctor didn't know if the police were notified but, after inquiring, was told they had been. The person who contacted the police has not been identified, Mr. Sparks said.

He said his agency called the police nonemergency number about noon Sunday to ask if officers knew about the case. The agency was told that police had been notified before that day and that a detective was at the hospital.

But a police report states officers weren't notified until after the toddler died.

Children services “knew of the injuries and the seriousness of the injuries Friday night,” Lieutenant Reed said. “Assumptions were made by people at the hospital, and we didn't get notified. Policies and procedures that were supposed to work were not followed.”

To avoid similar situations in the future, Mr. Sparks said caseworkers will stay at a hospital until they speak with a detective or patrol officer either in person or by phone.

“This is the only way I know to make sure this doesn't happen again,” he said.

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