Children removed from Columbia County commissioner's home

Child, 17, also reported missing
Marlin “Lilly” Dean, 17, believed to have run away

Columbia County authorities removed four children from the home of county Commissioner Scott Dean on Wednesday.

At about 6 p.m., Columbia County sheriff’s deputies escorted a county Division of Family and Children Services case worker to the Dean home at 320 N. Hicks Street in Harlem, said Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.

“Four children were removed from the home and later released to a family member,” Morris said.

Morris would not comment on why the children were removed from the home, and did not supply the name of the family member to whom they were returned.

A claim made to DFCS is still under investigation, said Dena Smith, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services, which oversees DFCS.

Smith said she could not give details of the claim, who made it, or the status of the children.

Claims can be made to DFCS anonymously or by a child, relative, teacher, neighbor, doctor or anyone else who believes abuse or neglect of a child is occurring, Smith said.

When a claim comes in, officials start an investigation, which typically involves a visit to the home. If the case worker decides the child or children are not safe, they will be removed from the home and placed with other family members or a foster family, Smith said.

“There is no typical (situation),” she said. “Every case is very individual. Child welfare is not a science in the sense that we’re talking about each individual family being different than the next family, each child being different than the next.”

Dean, and his wife, Renee, have seven children, five of whom they adopted from Guatemala in 2008.

A woman who answered Dean’s cell phone identified herself as family spokeswoman Sarah Scott.

Scott said, “We don’t really have a whole lot of comment. It is what it is.”

Police also said today they are looking for one of the Deans’ five adopted children, Marlin “Lilly” Dean, who is a suspected runaway. The 17-year-old was last seen Oct. 19 near the Augusta Mall, Morris said.

Anyone with information about Marlin’s whereabouts should call the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office at (706) 541-2800.