A state social worker deliberately tormented her neighbors with false child abuse claims – claims that resulted in multiple law enforcement visits to the home, police say.
Social worker Beth A. Bond and her fiancé were charged with six counts of making false reports to a state child abuse hotline, court records in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, indicate.
The calls led to late-night visits from police, six child abuse investigations and drug tests for the innocent couple, April Rodgers and Corey Chaney, The Courier-Journal newspaper reported. To make matters worse, officials with the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services refused to listen to Chaney and Rodgers until police proved the claims were false.
Rodgers and Chaney even were pressured by CPS to sign “prevention plans” designed to prevent abuse.
“There is no way to hold a rogue social worker accountable,” Chaney told The Courier-Journal. “There’s got to be a system in place to protect families. There’s everything in place to protect anonymous callers.”
“We were so scared that someone was going to take her away.”
Rodgers and Chaney became aware of the complaints at 10 p.m. on April 1, when several police officers showed up at their apartment. The officers were there because Bond or fiancé Joseph W. Applegate Jr. had called the hotline and accused the couple of engaging in a drunken fight.
Police looked into the matter and dropped the investigation after finding no evidence — but Bond and Applegate kept making anonymous complaints. Other hotline allegations included Chaney being high on methamphetamines and a claim that Rodgers was holding her child upside down over the edge of a balcony.
“The cops by the third call were apologizing, and by the fourth call they were getting mad,” Chaney said.
Each time a call was made the charges got more serious, yet police found no evidence of abuse.
Unfortunately, police had to call in a social worker, who questioned Rodgers and Chaney about their personal life and drugs. Each one of the cases was dismissed as unsubstantiated, but the charges kept coming.
Bond, who lived in the apartment below the couple, was a social worker herself, and her job was to investigate charges of child abuse and neglect. At first the innocent couple treated the complaints as a joke but soon became frightened.
“We were so scared that someone was going to take her away,” Rodgers told the newspaper, referencing her baby daughter.
“We asked CPS, ‘How many calls are you going to take before you realize this isn’t true?’” Chaney said. “They said, ‘Oh, we have to respond to every call.’”
The couple was eventually forced to hire a lawyer and take time off work to meet with social workers, the newspaper said.
Worst of all, they still do not know what motivated Bond and Applegate.
“It was all pretty terrifying,” Chaney said. “We couldn’t figure out why anybody would do that.”
The only dispute between the couples was that Bond may have complained that Rodgers and Chaney were loud.
When Bond and Applegate were arrested for six misdemeanors, Rodgers and Chaney moved that very weekend, The Courier-Journal reported.
“It took every single dime we had,” Rodgers said.
The innocent couple went public because they want the system to change.
“We don’t want this stuff swept under the rug,” Rodgers said.
Said Barry Sullivan, their lawyer, “This could happen to anyone. The bottom line is that there was a social worker allowed to run amok because there’s a system in place to protect anonymous callers.”
What changes would you suggest to the system so this does not happen to another couple? Share your tips in the section below: