Two juvenile defendants charged with aggravated child molestation were denied bond Tuesday.
The pair were arrested April 17 by Bartow County Sheriff’s Office deputies after they allegedly molested a 7-year-old boy in late March or early April while the three were residing at Advocates for Children’s Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter.
Although the defendants appeared in Bartow County Superior Court Judge Carey Nelson’s courtroom, it is unclear whether the two will be tried as adults. District Attorney Rosemary Greene told The Daily Tribune News previously that it was too early in the judicial process to make that determination.
Inquiries with the DA’s office and the Clerk of Superior Court’s Office provided no clear indicator as to whether the case will proceed in superior court.
The family of one of the accused released Wednesday a second statement through local radio station WYXC Radio’s Facebook page.
“We submit this as the adoptive parents of one of the accused children and this is our information and our story of fighting for help for our son and our family and information regarding the neglect of Bartow County, GA DFCS and Flowering Branch Children’s Home. We want to be clear that we are not seeking vengeance or any monetary gain of any kind. What we seek is to expose the truth about this situation as a whole, justice for the victim in this case and awareness of the brokenness of “the systems” when it comes to protecting those with mental illnesses from themselves and others,” the statement reads. “This situation is a situation that did not ever have to occur. A multitude of agencies and employees of both the government sector and private sectors were warned repeatedly, by us, of an incident of this magnitude occurring. They knew the dangers and yet they chose repeatedly to turn their heads. Because of that, a very young child has allegedly been abused and the families of all of these children are left in the dark to try and pick up the pieces of what is left and Bartow County, GA DFCS and Flowering Branch Children’s Home continue to try and cover up the tragic neglect that happened due to their negligence.”
According to the audio recording of a Feb. 25 final disposition on a relative search hearing with Juvenile Court Judge Jamie Averett, the family was attending therapy.
“He was very angry [in the first session]. He said screw the court, screw you guys, screw all of y'all. It was very hard. The second one was not quite as bad,” the mother said during the hearing.
The Division of Family and Children Services representative said in the hearing that the juvenile had undergone one individual “session at the treatment center” and was scheduled to attend each Thursday thereafter.
The juvenile’s father stressed the importance of that treatment.
“My only concern is that I still believe that he needs to be in therapy. … I believe crucially [a] one-on-one therapist,” he said during the hearing.
Throughout the juvenile court proceeding, Averett referred to the boy’s “diagnosis” and a psychological evaluation.
“The court is in receipt of the psychological evaluation of [the child] that was completed by Dr. [John Azar-]Dickens,” Averett said. “... The court has reviewed that, and the court is ordering — I think DFCS definitely has no objection — for an appointment for Dr. Dickens to review that with the two of you so y'all can have a current understanding of the current diagnosis, his concerns. You know we'll try to help y'all [understand] what we're looking at and dealing with and moving forward.”
In the release to WYXC Wednesday, the parents said the juvenile was “mentally ill.”
“He has been diagnosed, by a Forensic Psychologist, with the following: Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Cluster B Traits in the areas of AntiSocial Personality Disorder/Conduct Disorder, Narcissism, Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder. BiPolar II and Depression,” the statement reads.
“We have diligently fought for our son through multiple therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists, outpatient mental health care, inpatient mental health care, as well as a psychiatric residential treatment facility prior to asking for the assistance of Bartow County, GA DFCS since receiving custody of our son in 2004,” the statement continued.
According to the statement, the parents had advocated against the juvenile’s placement at Flowering Branch, instead recommending he be placed in a “Maximum Watchful Oversight Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility.”
“Have you all had any concerns about his placement there [Flowering Branch]? It seems that for the most part he has adjusted well,” Averett said during the Feb. 25 hearing.
“... The proposed order indicates that the existing plan for reunification continues to be the best plan, there is no intent to petition to terminate parental rights, that the child is currently in a group home,” she continued. “It is not a prospective permanent home, but that right now is not the goal of this court. That placement currently is appropriate for his needs. That visitation is appropriate, but I'm also including in the order for additional visitation to occur at the shelter as arranged.”
The reasoning, however, appeared to remain unclear to the juvenile’s mother.
“I understand what you guys are doing. I don't understand why ...,” the mother said.
Averett thanked the couple for “being diligent in your commitment to him.”
“... Hopefully something will click in him and he will begin making some progress. He looked good today, and so it sounds like from Dr. Dickens evaluation where he's at is a good fit for him as well,” she said.
The Daily Tribune News has reached out to the juvenile’s parents but has not received a response.