After years of abuse, caretaker says DCFS/law enforcement ‘dropped the ball’ in protecting children
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A caretaker says her client was subjected to years of sexual abuse and trafficking after the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and law enforcement “dropped the ball” on investigating reports.
LeToyia Porter, the chief leadership officer at Bogalusa Restoration Center and caretaker for a girl, who will be referred to as J.C. in this report, said her office filed report after report of the alleged abuse but they appeared to fall on deaf ears.
“As she began to disclose the more sexual abuse, being sold since she was six years old, we began to call law enforcement out,” said Porter. “[We] Filed a report with our law enforcement in the area.”
“It became really concerning to me because there was no urgency and I would think that with our children, with our mentally fragile, and our elderly, there should always be urgency with something like that, but we made the report, we took it to, everything just seems to be lost,” she explained.
Porter said once the police reports got to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, the case seemingly disappeared.
“That’s where it died. It died,” she added.
According to Sheriff Jason Ard, until recently, his department did not have the evidence needed to make an arrest.
“Imagine looking a little girl in her face every day and you have no answers for her,” she expressed.
Porter said DCFS equally shares the blame. She said reports have been made over the last decade by mandated reporters but she found no evidence any of those reports were followed up on, even though J.C’s sibling had been removed by the department years ago for abuse.
“My job is to report, to listen to her, to support her. From day one, she said no one was going to listen, that the family was very powerful, that she has been reporting this at every facility she’s been to. We are her 12th facility and we’ve made 12 reports,” said Porter.
The suspect in the case, John Mack, 75, was recently arrested in Livingston Parish. He is being held without bond on charges of first-degree rape and sexual battery of a child.
Mack is the relative to a state lawmaker in Livingston Parish and a Livingston councilman. Both men said they have not had contact with Mack in more than a decade.
“While I’m reluctant to use the word cover-up, the appearance from the outside is that someone either drastically dropped the ball, was overly incompetent, or grossly covered this up,” said Eugene Collins, president of the Baton Rouge Chapter of the NAACP.
Collins started advocating for J.C. after Porter was out of options and sought his help. It was not until after he urged her to report the abuse to the Governor’s Office of Human Trafficking that they said the ball started rolling and Mack was arrested.
“We need to know why these complaints were overlooked for so long, because even if nothing else, this young girl connects. We know for a fact she was left in the care of this man for far too long and if these complaints had just been followed up on, how much mental anguish could you have saved this child from,” explained Collins.
According to DCFS, the department cannot legally confirm whether a case involving Mack actually exists, and therefore, cannot comment on the matter.
“When a kid comes to you and says they’ve been sexually abused, you should investigate that with everything you have,” added Collins.
“If mandated reporting is, not doing so is criminal. Not following up on the mandated reports should be just as criminal,” said Porter.
According to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, last month’s arrest of Mack “stems from new information obtained by LPSO detectives. That new information allowed us to move forward and secure an arrest warrant in this case.”
It is important to note that the arrest warrant only reports the charges against Mack and does not include any of the allegations. At this time, these are all just allegations as Mack is still awaiting trial.
Scott Perrilloux, the district attorney in Livingston Parish, recused himself and his office from this case. In the court filing, Perrilloux said “after reviewing the file and the CAC interviews of the alleged victim and her sister, it is very apparent that the potential exists for witnesses to be called which would put the elected district attorney in a position that could be perceived to be a conflict in the fair and impartial administration of justice.”
The Louisiana Attorney General’s office will now take over the case.
Mack is expected to be in court on Wednesday, Nov. 24. He is asking a judge to set a bond in his case.
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