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Published: Saturday, 2/7/2004

Officials air outrage over child s death

Mayor Jack Ford and other public officials expressed outrage yesterday during a news conference over the beating death of a 2-year-old girl in her central-city home Wednesday.

The mayor and city council members urged the community to become more vigilant in notifying authorities about possible domestic violence situations, such of what they believed was the case between Catrina Brown, 24, and Terrance Whiting, 22, who lived at 132 Batavia St.

Authorities said they believe Ms. Brown s daughter, Katrina Johnson, was beaten by Mr. Whiting while the girl s mother did nothing to intervene.

Both remained in the Lucas County Jail yesterday after being arraigned yesterday before Toledo Municipal Court Judge Thomas Osowik. Judge Osowik set a $500,000 bond for Mr. Whiting, who is charged with murder, and $100,000 for Ms. Brown, who is charged with felony child endangering.

A woman identifying herself as the mother of Ms. Brown said outside the courtroom that her daughter was in an abusive relationship and was afraid of Mr. Whiting.

“This is unbelievable,” said Ms. Brown s mother, who only gave the name of Audrey. “To all the women out there, if you re in an abusive relationship, please tell somebody. Don t let this happen to you.”

That sentiment was echoed during the news conference.

The mayor, flanked by several city council members and Dean Sparks, executive director of Lucas County Children Services, said that 12 young people have lost their lives in the past 37 months, half of those deaths involving the boyfriend of the mother.

“This is something we just can t tolerate,” Mr. Sparks said.

Leroy Williams, the chairman of the children services board of directors and a local pastor, called on the religious community to become more involved in reaching out into their neighborhoods.

“If a child is at risk, then it is our business,” Mr. Williams said. “It really does take a village to raise a child. There is no problem that can t be discussed with us at anytime.”

Councilman George Sarantou said he wanted children services to review procedures to see if the agency could have done something to step in beforehand. He pointed to the fact that the couple had been together since October.

Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, who also attended the news conference, said that all adults moving into a household with open children services cases with a history of domestic violence must be assessed.

Mr. Sparks, though, deflected the comments, saying a caseworker had been in contact with Ms. Brown two weeks ago, and Ms. Brown never disclosed that Mr. Whiting was living with her, nor did the caseworker find any evidence of a man living at the residence.

“We didn t know about [Mr. Whiting] until yesterday,” Mr. Sparks said after the news conference. “There were people who did know about them living together but never came forward.”

Mr. Sparks said Ms. Brown came to children services to help with housing after she had been evicted from a residence. He said the caseworker s visit two weeks ago was a follow-up to make sure she had moved into her current residence without any problems.

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