Articles Posted in Florida

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By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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Dennis Devlin, 57, a former Florida hotel owner, pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a 13-year-old boy. Devlin will spend at least 15 years in federal prison. Devlin is the former owner of the Desert Inn in Daytona Beach, Florida. Federal agents found an iPhone hidden in the bathroom ceiling of his second-floor hotel that contained sexually explicit images of the boy. A former employee of Devlin’s, 20-year-old Michael Ehmen, also pleaded guilty to the same federal charge. Ehmen admitted he recruited the boy, took him to the hotel for Devlin’s enjoyment, and received $100 for his recruitment. Police stated Ehmen also had sex (molested the boy) with Devlin for money and the two had an arrangement that Ehmen would bring “new people to visit [Devlin]” for more. Ehmen recruited the boy, the son of a friend, to help install security cameras at the hotel. On the way to the hotel Ehmen told the teenager Devlin would pay him to pose nude. Prosecutors said on a second visit to the hotel video was taken of Ehmen and the minor performing sexual acts together and spanking each other on Devlin’s bed. Devlin has a long history of sex-related charges in Volusia County and elsewhere. In 1988, 13 sex-related charges were dropped against him by prosecutors in Ocean View, Maryland. In 1993, he was charged with 23 crimes against a single boy; Devlin was convicted and spend 22 months in prison. However, in 2002 a judge overturned his conviction after the boy recanted his testimony as an adult. Federal agents seized the iPhone containing nude photos of the boy, as well as four DVD recordings of the boy and child porn in “several boxes” and on Devlin’s business computer. Sentencing dates have not been set for Ehmen or Devlin, they each face the same time range in federal prison. For more read Former Florida hotel owner pleads guilty to sexual exploitation of a 13-year-old boy.

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By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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Under a new law that goes into effect August 2010 in Miami, Florida will ban lone adults at designated Miami beach playgrounds. Adults found without accompanying minors will be asked to leave, and possibly fined. The ordinance, which was passed unanimously, was proposed by Miami Beach Commissioner, Jorge Exposito, after he witnessed a man “behave lewdly” in front of children at a Miami park. However, the ordinance is only effective in 19 newly designated “child-required” playground areas.

Opposition was voiced by a resident who regularly uses the playground equipment for exercise and has some constitutional issues. However, the law was passed with wide public support.

The ordinance resembled those of San Francisco and New York City, which makes it the responsibility of parents and park employees to report the violators to police. If you would like to read more on this new law see New Miami law makes it unlawful for lone adults to be in designated areas without accompanying children.

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By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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A 13-year-old boy of Bradenton, Florida was arrested for the beating and the possible rape of a 22-month-old girl in a home-based daycare facility. Heather Lovett, the 21-year-old owner of the facility, left the teenage boy in charge of the facility, Our Kids Day Care, while she took something to her boyfriend. Lovett is allegedly dating the teen’s father.

The toddler was taken to a hospital by her father after the father noticed injuries on the girl’s body. Police reports reveal that the toddler was determined to have been choked, punched and sexually assaulted. The boy admitted to hitting the girl twenty times but denied committing any sexual assault. This is not Lovett’s first complaint against her daycare. In June, a parent made a molestation complaint against Lovett and the older brother of the teenage boy charged in this case.

The registration of Our Kids Day Care has now been revoked by the state’s Department of Children and Families. However, DCF would not have became involved if a major incident was not reported. This has parents, local authorities and other concerned citizen to question the screening and licensing procedures of Florida daycare facilities. According to published reports, DCF does not inspect or regulate daycare facilities that have fewer than 10 children; Our Kids Day Care cared for 5 children between the ages 10-months to 4-years-old. To read more on this story see Florida screening and licensing procedures are questioned by concerned citizens.

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By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network
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A new study done by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and partially funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, has quantified the extra financial burden carried by low-income families with a special needs child. The study was designed to look at cash outlay for special medical services based on the state in which the affected family lives. The study found that the financial burden varies significantly from state to state.

The most impacted families are low-income families in Georgia, who spend an average of an extra $971.22 in out of pocket expenses for a child requiring special medical care. Massachusetts had the lowest out of pocket expenses at $561.97. Florida was number forty six with $855.19.

The study also looked at the percentage of affected families paying for extra care out of pocket; Mississippi had the highest percentage, with 94% of families with a special needs child paying extra expenses for their care. Michigan had the lowest percentage at 86%. Not surprisingly, states with more substantial Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Programs place the least financial strain on families. Read more about the study and see the full list of extra payments by state at Special-needs families hit hard by out-of-pocket health care costs.

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By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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The United States Department of Health and Human Resources has a website that has a great reference tool for parents and caregivers with children in day care centers and child care centers. Each state regulates day care centers / child care centers through a state specific administrative code and / or policy manual. Go to State Administrative Rules and Policy Manuals for Child Care. Another good resource is located at the website for the National Resource Center for
Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education
. Parents should use these and other resources to educate themselves on the various state specific rules and regulations for day care centers and child care centers. Each state regulates day care centers slightly differently. As such, parents should be informed on the regulations that apply to their children’s day care center. Is the facility following the law? Are the state specific requirements for staffing being met? Are records being kept according to the state law? What information as a parent and caregiver am I entitled to regarding incidents and accidents? What disciplinary measures are allowed? What disciplinary actions are prohibited? These and many other issues are addressed in these day care rules and regulations. In addition, parents concerned about the care being received in a day care center / child care center can also consult with a child injury attorney / lawyer to find out if there is a viable case or claim to be pursued on behalf of a child who has been injured in a day care center as a result of day care negligence, abuse, or neglect.

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By Scott Soutullo, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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Internet chat rooms serve as playgrounds for child predators looking to take advantage of children. In many instances, a child predator is able to lure the child not only out of the home but out of the child’s home state. William Joe Mitchell recently appeared in federal court and pleaded guilty to the charge of the interstate transportation of a minor for sex. Mr. Mitchell met a 15 year old girl in a chat room online and knowingly transported a child that he knew was underaged from Bartow (Polk County) Florida to Anadulsia, Alabama. These acts were in violation of Title 18, United States Code 2423 (a) which makes it a crime to transport a child under the age of 18 with the intent of having sex. Mr. Mitchell also violated Alabama law which makes it a crime for a person over the age of 16 to have sex with a child under the age of 16 when there is more than a 2 year age difference between the defendant and the child. Mr. Mitchell was 46 years old at the time of the crime. For his crimes, Mr. Mitchell faces a prison term of at least 10 years.

The investigation, arrest, and prosecution of William Joe Mitchell were pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood. This program helps coordinate efforts to locate and apprehend child sexual predators between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

You can read more about this story at Florida Man Admits to Crime of Interstate Transportation of a Minor for Sex – Faces Prison Term of 10 Years or Longer.

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An international study of child abuse reported in the British Medical Journal – Lancet revealed that there is an under reporting of child abuse in developed countries like the United States, Australia, United Kingdom and Canada. While it is difficult to provide an exact figure or percentage, researchers estimate that as few as 1 in 10 cases get reported and are confirmed by social service agencies. There are many reasons for this problem. They include the delicate nature of such reports, the short term effects of the reporting, the long term reports of the reporting, the uncertainty of the potential reporter of abuse, back log of cases in certain social service agencies, and other reasons. You can read more about this study at Most Child Abuse in Developed Nations including the United States Go Unreported.

Most states mandate the reporting of child abuse to the state agency responsible for fielding and investigating such calls. This is especially true for those professionals, caregivers, and educations like doctors, day care personnel, teachers, coaches, and others who have knowledge or a good faith suspicion that a child is being abused. If you suspect that a child is being abused, it makes sense to contact the local and / or state social welfare agency (example – Florida Department of Children and Families) to find out more information as to ways to report abuse and how abuse is defined by state statute, law, and / or ordinance.

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By Brooks P. Lynn, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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Parades are places for celebration. Parades are also places of tragedy far too often for young children who are in the parade or merely watching the parade. In a Beaumont Texas Christmas Parade, Aaliyah Carter (age 11) was killed after falling and being run over by a parade float. Aalliyah attended Homer Elementary School in Beaumont, Texas. According to parade witnesses, Aaliyah was running alongside the truck when she tripped over another girl. The driver, who apparently was not aware that the girl was in the road, ran over the girl who was crushed by the parade float wheels. Aaliyah was taken to Christus St. Elizsabeth Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival from castastrophic head wounds. You can read more about the parade accident involving Aaliyah Carter at 11 Year Old Dies in Beaumont Texas Christmas Parade.

Parade related injuries and death happen each year. People including participants in the parade are caught up in the celebration which almost always include children. From Texas to Florida and the rest of the nation, parade injuries and deaths to children are most troubling. See Parades: Injuries and Deaths to Children in Florida.

Safety, planning, and supervision of children are all key components to keeping children safe during any parade. It is most unfortunate for Aaliyah Carter and her family that a day of celebration and happiness so quickly turned into a day of tragedy and morning.