|Judge Jamese Rhoades|
From the Statesman Journal:
The case gained public attention last month after Susana’s story was published in the Statesman Journal. The girl’s grandmother shared records from DHS and police records after the court’s decision to send her granddaughter to live with her biological father, Alfonzo Pantoja, in Mexico.Judge Rhoades believes an alcoholic father who becomes violent and at best only stopped drinking three weeks ago is a safe guardian for a 6 year old girl. And Judge Rhoades believes that the Mexican child welfare system which ignored repeated pleas for intervention in Adriana Cram's case is now up to monitoring the safety of 6 year old "Susana".
Grandmother Kerrie Lechuga argued that Pantoja’s Salem police record and a domestic violence conviction made him unfit to parent her granddaughter in a foreign country. Lechuga’s own daughter, Gloria Segura, has an admitted methamphetamine problem, is on parole and does not have custody of “Susana.” The child has been living with a foster family in Salem.
The father is supposed to:
". . . abstain from drinking alcohol; to continue his own counseling for anger management and impulse control; to continue to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and to get individual and family counseling for Susana."But, Judge Rhoades admits she has no way to assure this will happen or to oversee the safety of the 6 year old girl.
“The difficult part is that I won’t be able to have eyes on this child as I would if she were to stay here. But is that sufficient grounds to deny reunification?” Rhoades said.Of course, not only will Judge Rhoades not have "eyes" on the 6 year old, she will be able to do nothing if there is clear evidence the 6 year old is being abused.
Neither will the DHS therapist who wants the girl sent to Mexico "tomorrow".
Time to retire both the therapist and judge to their fat PERS pensions. Unfortunately, Marion County voters just re-elected Judge Rhoades to her circuit court position in 2012 so she has four more years to serve. Hopefully, those voters will be wiser in 2018--and the then 10 year old "Susana" will be unabused and still alive.
It's time for the Oregon legislature to require that DHS and Oregon judges not be allowed to send children to those known to be violent and actually convicted of domestic violence where the child's welfare cannot be monitored and secured by Oregon officials and law.