Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

October 24, 2012

Watson doesn’t need a Halloween costume


Journal-Times

Oct. 24, 2012 — That’s because Watson Adkins was just two years old when his aunt and uncle, serving as state-approved foster parents, allegedly murdered him last year in Floyd County.

If you were sickened by the story of Amy Dye, 9, beaten to death by her adoptive brother two years ago in Western Kentucky, don’t read any more of this editorial.

Again, a child is dead, apparently the result of brutal abuse by adults supposed to protect him.

And, again, the bureaucrats in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) seem to have ignored or even hidden warnings of suspected abuse of the child in the home where he had been placed.

Even worse, CHFS officials again violated our state’s open records law by withholding records of the case, choosing to defy repeated court rulings and an ongoing legal battle by the Lexington and Louisville newspapers to force the cabinet to comply with the law.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals ordered just last Friday that the state should pay legal fees totaling $20,000 for the two newspapers.

Gov. Steve Beshear replaced the CHFS cabinet secretary last year after the earlier case but where does he stand today on his commitment to “transparency” in the deaths of children supposedly under state protection?

Since CHFS is part of the executive branch, Beshear is the only person with the power and authority in state government to rid the cabinet of those who obstruct efforts to account for the agency’s actions, or lack thereof, in the protection of helpless, innocent children.

Kentucky will never stop child abuse deaths until we have a better understanding of how and why they occur.

And that cannot happen until the veil of secrecy is lifted from such cases.

The only positive news in this latest case is that Watson’s three siblings were rescued from the home where their little brother died.

Details of this case may never have come to light without the watchdog efforts of a weekly newspaper, The Mountain Citizen in Inez, which asked the CHFS for information on the case.

The cabinet did not respond in a timely fashion, as required by law, and then had the audacity to conceal vital pieces of information in the case.

In our opinion, it’s time to prosecute supervisors and/or staff members in the CHFS for criminal negligence or whatever charge is appropriate in such cases.

Costumed trick or treat kids will be ringing doorbells next week but little Watson Adkins won’t be among them.