Judge blocks kids' return to mother

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Responding to a plea from the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court judge on Tuesday blocked the return of four children to the Burke County mother charged with abusing them.

The Burke County Department of Family and Children Services took Jeremy and Christine Long's 10 underage children after they were found living in an abandoned house. The agency was poised Tuesday afternoon to recommend sending the four oldest children home to Mrs. Long.

Judge David Roper, who is assigned to the Longs' divorce case, said DFCS's recommendation that the children be returned to Mrs. Long while she faces criminal charges was so unusual that it warranted his court's intervention.

On July 31 Burke County sheriff officers found Mrs. Long, an 18-year-old daughter and 10 underage children living in a rural house that lacked running water or electricity.

According to the prosecutor's motion, there was no food in the house. There were no beds for the children, and they didn't have proper clothing or shoes -- two had never worn shoes. None had been vaccinated or given dental care. The younger children suffered from malnutrition. The children range in age from 1 to 17.

Mr. and Mrs. Long have pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of cruelty to children in the second degree and five counts of failure to provide an education. She is free on a $20,000 bond. He is in jail unable to post a $25,000 bond.

Assistant District Attorney Kristi Connell filed a motion in the case seeking intervention. "I have come to court because I don't know of where else to go," she said Tuesday morning.

Ms. Connell said she was shocked to learn of DFCS's decision to return the children over the district attorney's objections. It appears the only voice the children have is the prosecutor's office, Ms. Connell said.

Prosecutors are also concerned that because Mr. and Mrs. Long are blaming each other for the children's living conditions, Mrs. Long could influence the testimony of the children. She has made statements that contradict the children's accounts, Ms. Connell said.

The guardians appointed to look after the children's interest in juvenile court also oppose the plan to return them while the criminal case is pending.

Attorneys for Mrs. Long and DFCS insisted Tuesday that Judge Roper didn't have jurisdiction in the case. Juvenile court has exclusive jurisdiction over deprivation cases.

"This thing is way off base," DFCS attorney Gary Glover told Judge Roper. The district attorney was completely misguided in trying to insert herself into the case, he said.

"DFCS is doing its job in this case," Mr. Glover said. He saw no risk in returning the children to live with Mrs. Long on a trial basis with community support and services, he said.

Mrs. Long's attorney John Flythe told the judge Mrs. Long has done everything required in her case plan and visits with the children at every opportunity. It is not fair to keep her from putting her life back together and reuniting with her children, he said.

Mr. Glover and Mr. Flythe objected to the matter being heard in the Superior Court domestic case. The state has legal custody of the children, and the state isn't involved in the divorce case before Judge Roper, they said.

Judge Roper ruled that the district attorney was within her rights to petition for intervention. The district attorney has duties to intervene in any civil matter in which the state has an interest, and the district attorney has a legal obligation to assist victims, he said.

The law gives children the right to counsel in juvenile court, and Judge Roper appointed the district attorney to fulfill that role.

Judge Roper said that while juvenile court has jurisdiction over deprivation matters, a superior court has jurisdiction over custody. He made the state, which has legal custody of the children, a party to the divorce case, too.

How could the state say it was looking out for the best interests of the children when the child advocates opposed its plan? Judge Roper asked.

"I think the public would be incensed," he said.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

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Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 03/25/09 - 01:44 am
0
0
The public IS INCENSED. How

The public IS INCENSED. How dare DFCS make such ignorant recomendations? How can you possibly justify placing children such as those in this case in the care of their mother who is pending trial for cruelty to children? A 10 year old would know just how stupid this recomendation is. ""This thing is way off base," DFCS attorney Gary Glover told Judge Roper. " is the only comment the DFCS attorney was correct on but not for the reasons he meant. Even those watching the children at this time don't believe this is a good decision by DFCS. If we are going to err, lets err on the side of the children not some stupid & lazy government organization who would rather spend money on an attorney to fight against childrens rights than for the children theirselves. Thank God for our DA. As for the case, if they were returned, you would see national news medis here quickly asserting just how backwards and stupid we are in the south, and ya know, they would be right!! Who even comes up with such a suggestion? Whomever it is does not need to be in a job protecting children and should be off the taxpayers dollars. Probably made this recomendation to save $$ in their budget - STUPID!!

NEone
6
Points
NEone 03/25/09 - 03:23 am
0
0
If the courts won't stand up

If the courts won't stand up for the children, who will? Obviously not DFCS.

justus4
101
Points
justus4 03/25/09 - 04:47 am
0
0
This is an example of poor
Unpublished

This is an example of poor judgement that could harm the children by not using common sense and using blinders. Why would an agency TRUST an individual that have proven to be unfit? Well, the agency believes what that individual is saying because somehow they connect with that person. Why do they connect? Well, the agency feels that government is interferring in that individual's life and will bend rules to assist the said individual which violates the rules. The agency representative that recomended the children's return should be fired for cause. Such poor judgement is dangerous and gives the entire operation a black eye. Again, fire the approving authority from DFCS, thus setting an example of responsible and possibly saving children's lives.

pantherluvcik
628
Points
pantherluvcik 03/25/09 - 06:11 am
0
0
Lazy is an understatement, I

Lazy is an understatement, I would hope they never allow this idiot to have her kids back. She didn't take care of them in the first place, what kind of mother allows her children to live like that. Not going to school, no shoes for some of them, most importantly no food in the house, or electricity. What now the state jumps in and gives her public assistance and she's super mom. Attorney Glover I hope you never have to find another job, because your stance on this matter makes you look like an idiot. And though I know the DA is really only thinking about her case, atleast someone is thinking.

karmakills123
8
Points
karmakills123 03/25/09 - 06:34 am
0
0
DFCS and other such agencys

DFCS and other such agencys are by far more of the problem instead of the solution..you have for the most part a group of men and mostly women who make the most absurd decisions I have ever seen...they get some kind of God complex when they control someone elses life...for the most part they are sad bottom of the barrel Gov. workers and live off the teat of the taxpayer and do as little as possible.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 03/25/09 - 08:06 am
0
0
DFCS ding-dongs.

DFCS ding-dongs.

hhinorton
3
Points
hhinorton 03/25/09 - 08:34 am
0
0
If returned to their mother

If returned to their mother with "community support" these children might receive food and some care, but this dysfunctional situation goes deeper than food and shelter. The abuse was so longstanding and the mother should be required to wait and to receive extensive therapy. The criminal matters need to be dealt with before the children are under the supervision of anyone they might testify against. This is common sense that is frequently forgotten when social workers want a speedy resolution to move cases along (on paper). Social workers also tend to see so much abuse that anything that looks better looks OK. They romanticize about parent love and wish for the improbable. Again, the judge made the right call.

saltine
281
Points
saltine 03/25/09 - 09:43 am
0
0
Judge Roper is a "God

Judge Roper is a "God "fearing man and made the right choice ,with these children. Everyone has to live with their choices,and the mother should be made to live with hers.DFACS ,isn't always right.Sometimes ,the lives involved ,are more important ,than the paper work .

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 03/25/09 - 10:03 am
0
0
Is DFACS unlike many other

Is DFACS unlike many other public service agencies in that it places children, and not paperwork, first? On the contrary, this case reinforces the position that DFACS, like most other agencies of its ilk, "talks" about our kids but does not "walk" to help them. THANK GOD for Judge Roper and a conscientious ADA!

cricketflea
3
Points
cricketflea 03/25/09 - 11:57 am
0
0
As long as I can remember,

As long as I can remember, DFCS has always believed in returning the children to the parents. HERE THEY GO AGAIN!!! Time and time again I have seen children returned to abusing parents only to be taken away again and again and returned over and over. Do they EVER think what this does to the CHILDREN in the long term? THANK YOU Judge Roper for stepping in on this one!!! I wish DFCS had to go through a judge each and every time they wanted to return a child to an abusive parent. Maybe then some of the children we see running the streets, and you can BET DFCS has been involved with more than a few of them, could be saved by being put in decent homes where parents CARE and LOVE and DISCIPLINE. Thank you again Judge Roper!!!!

jimbob
85
Points
jimbob 03/25/09 - 12:25 pm
0
0
contact these stupid idiots,

contact these stupid idiots, and tell them how you feel about their ideas!

Burke County DFCS
729 West 6th Street
P. O. Box 390
Waynesboro, Georgia 30830-0390
(706)554-7751
FAX (706) 554-7093

TruthJusticeFaithHope
218
Points
TruthJusticeFaithHope 03/25/09 - 12:37 pm
0
0
Actually Cricket... they do

Actually Cricket... they do have to go before a judge each time they place a child... a juvenile court judge. You are correct, DFCS attempts to place children back with their biological parents. Permanently termanating parental rights (TPR) do occur, and can be done within a year... which is a huge improvement over the average of two years just a few years ago... Parents have more rights than children... it comes down to the constitution... and children are still basically looked at a property. Only about 25% of child abuse is detected... so, you can figure out how huge of a problem it is... and when considering sexual abuse, any law inforcement investigator will tell you that child sexual abuse is the most difficult crime to prove.

sprintman
0
Points
sprintman 03/25/09 - 02:19 pm
0
0
I feel sorry for poor white

I feel sorry for poor white people in the south. Well not really since most of them vote for republcians. And you get what you ask for. The neo cons have never helped the poor white class once in their life.

sprintman
0
Points
sprintman 03/25/09 - 02:21 pm
0
0
Im pretty sure the Long

Im pretty sure the Long family had a confederate flag outside their trailer. Next to the Mccain/Palin sign.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 03/25/09 - 11:15 pm
0
0
Is it true that a certain

Is it true that a certain juvenile court "judge" seats a joey in the corner of his courtroom in the Evans Government Center?

BH90201
0
Points
BH90201 03/26/09 - 12:15 am
0
0
Why is Jeremy Long (father)

Why is Jeremy Long (father) in jail and the mother is not?? I am not the first to ask this question but no one ever has an answer. And why is DFCS not being investigated? It seems very strange that this agency would think it the best interest of the children to return them to their mother when she is obviously unstable and neglectful. Why is she just now coming out and saying she was abused? Why didn't she say this in the beginning? Where is she living now and how is she paying for it? I think there are many unanswered questions and I applaud the judge for his decision. I hope someone will dig deep and learn everything there is to know and I would bet my life the mother is not so innocent.

BRENDAS VIEW
0
Points
BRENDAS VIEW 03/26/09 - 11:04 am
0
0
Judge Roper, is doing the

Judge Roper, is doing the RIGHT thing,the so called parents,have proven what they think and feel about these's little victum's.the state in their all knowing ways,want to throw these children back into this HELL HOLD. NO!!! where are their RIGHT'S. may GOD BLESS and KEEP YOU JUDGE ROPER , for doing the right thing, THANK YOU,for your courage of convection! I imagine these children have been enjoying a clean bed a decent meal,clean clothes shoe's,attention,caring, school, no worries feeling safe, and to think,these are things all children by victure of birth DESERVE. they have been denied far to long. so much for so called SOCIAL WORKER'S, where are your COMMON SENSE.you are IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

devgru1
0
Points
devgru1 02/09/10 - 08:47 pm
0
0
Go to your local DFCS Office

Go to your local DFCS Office and see who is handling this. I had a neighbor who worked for DFCS. She had two foster children living with her. While she was gone until 9 p.m. each night they were sitting on the street corner using drugs. That's who is minding the store.

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