Health and family cabinet continues to withhold more information in copies of child abuse records than judge allowed

The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services released three more death and near-death cases involving child abuse or neglect Friday under court order, but continued to withhold critical information. It has appealed the order.

The 2009 cases involve two babies who died from suffocation while the parents were impaired. A third case involves a 2-year-old girl from Lawrence County, who was injured after she was reportedly kicked in the head by a horse while unsupervised.

The cabinet “continues to withhold, or redact, far more information” than was allowed under the Jan. 19 order of Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd, reports Deborah Yetter of The Courier-Journal. Shepherd said the cabinet could withhold the names of children seriously injured by abuse or neglect, names of private citizens who report suspected abuse, the names of minor siblings in the home and the names of minor perpetrators.
But the cabinet is withholding more information than that. “For example, in the case of the girl injured by the horse, the cabinet deleted the name and relationship of the adult who was watching her, even though the adult is named and identified as her grandfather in a separate internal review of the case,” Yetter reports. “The cabinet also withheld juvenile and family court records in that case and the names of all adults involved.” The girl recovered from the skull fracture sustained by the horse.

Gavin Villarreal never woke up after he was found with a plastic bag over his head in his crib, possibly placed over the 5-month-old’s head by other young children in the home. His parents both tested positive for drugs on the day of his death and were convicted. In the third case, a month-old baby died after his father apparently rolled over him in his sleep. Both parents admitted they had been drinking and used marijuana before they went to bed. (Read more)

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