Other OCS horror stories
Due process, child protection collide
JOHN DAVIDSON/Frontiersman reporter
When the Kelley abuse case broke in early September last year, many were shocked to learn that Patrick and Sherry Kelley had adopted their five children from the state and were receiving $3,400 a month to care for them.
As details of the case emerged, it became known that the children had been placed in the Kelleys' foster care by the Office of Children's Services, which approved and encouraged the adoptions.
Since then, OCS has come under increased scrutiny from citizens and lawmakers who want the agency to be more accountable for its actions.
Last month, Gov. Frank Murkowski announced a child protection package as part of his fiscal 2006 budget. The package includes legislative proposals to open more OCS activities to the public and reform the screening process for licensing foster parents.
Critics of the agency are plentiful and their complaints are diverse; some think OCS unnecessarily intervenes in family matters and violates parental rights too often, others say OCS doesn't do enough to protect children and should be more active.
At the center of the controversy is a state agency that has the uncommon and difficult task of determining when children are in danger and ensuring their protection.
Because OCS is required to protect the identity of children at the center of abuse investigations, case workers and officials cannot discuss much of what they do. But while confidentiality rules protect minors' identities, they also shroud the activities of the agency in secrecy, making public accountability difficult, if not impossible.
Although there is an intersection between law enforcement and child protection, they are not the same and their standards of evidence are very different.
This difference becomes problematic in the context of constitutional rights, particularly the due-process clause of the Fifth Amendment.
OCS, acting independently of law enforcement agencies, can investigate a claim of child abuse, substantiate that claim and implicate a parent as the perpetrator without filing criminal charges. Even if law enforcement investigators don't think the claims of abuse are credible and refuse to arrest the alleged perpetrator or file criminal charges, an OCS investigator can make a so-called "finding of substantiation," and the parent in question will go down in OCS records as a perpetrator of child abuse.
A parent in this position can be haunted for years by such a finding, with no recourse through the legal system and no way to clear his or her name.
The stigma of being labeled a child abuser can do more than ruin a person's relations with friends and family; the findings of an OCS investigation can also prevent a person from getting jobs that require extensive background checks.
All of this and more has happened to Mark Ruby. In 1995, an OCS investigator named him as the perpetrator of sexual abuse against his daughter, an accusation he has vehemently denied for 10 years. Ruby has been trying to clear his name ever since, with little success.
Having exhausted all other options, in the coming months he will file a civil rights suit against the state of Alaska and its Office of Children's Services.
An unexpected reunion
During the winter of 1995, Mark Ruby says his life was "perfect." He was working for Job Corps in Palmer, was a trained emergency medical technician and firefighter and was looking forward to getting his basic life support certification. Everything seemed to be going well.
Then he got a phone call from his ex-wife, whom he hadn't heard from in 10 years. She said their 13-year-old daughter had run away from home in Anchorage, and asked Ruby if he would help look for her. Ruby had not seen his daughter since she was 3 years old.
After they found her, Ruby decided he wanted to get to know his daughter and build a friendship. They arranged a visit and she came out for a weekend to visit Ruby, his wife and their two children; she spent that Christmas in Houston with Ruby and the rest of his extended family.
After Christmas, Ruby didn't hear from his daughter for months, until he got a phone call at work one day that spring. Ruby said she called him from a hospital and began making accusations that he had raped her, but hung up the phone before he could say anything.
Hours later, an oficer from the Wasilla Police Department, Roger Vercelline, who has since left that organization, called Ruby and asked him to come down to the station and answer some questions about his daughter.
During questioning, Ruby volunteered to take a polygraph to reinforce his claim to innocence; he was given a full polygraph at the Anchorage Police Department in April 1995, and, after five hours of examination, Ruby passed the polygraph.
Later that same day, back at Wasilla Police Department, Vercelline told Ruby his daughter had refused to take a polygraph. Although Ruby said Vercelline told him he didn't believe the girl's accusations, there was one more thing Ruby could do.
"After the polygraph, [Vercelline] told me there was one way to ensure, in his mind, that I was innocent, and that was to get a blood test for hepatitis," Ruby said. "So I went straight to the hospital and got that test and brought the results back to Vercelline. The results showed no hepatitis and no hepatitis antibodies, and I thought that was the end of it."
As far as Ruby knew, that was the end of it; he was never arrested, never charged with a crime, and never called in for further questioning. Ruby went on with his life, thinking he had demonstrated his innocence to the concerned authorities. He was wrong.
Unbeknownst to Ruby at the time, OCS named him as the perpetrator of sexual abuse against his estranged daughter in 1995, even though police found no reason to pursue criminal charges. Years later, Ruby would discover this "finding" against him when he applied for a job that required an in-depth background check.
In August 2001, Ruby was working with Community Service Patrol in Anchorage as a lead EMT. When he was offered a job with the Homeward Bound program at RurAL CAP Inc., he was advised that an extensive background check was part of the hiring process. Ruby had no reason to believe they would find anything damaging.
But the next month, while still in his probationary period of employment, a friend at work told Ruby the background check had uncovered records at OCS that named him as the perpetrator of sexual abuse and he would not be hired.
Although state law does not authorize OCS to respond to a typical employer's request for a child protection background check, those employers who are licensed to provide care or services to children can ask OCS about the child protection history of a prospective employee.
According to OCS spokesman Mike Lesmann, an OCS staff person can only disclose whether there has been a substantiated report of abuse and must have a signed consent from the prospective employee for release of more information.
Because of the OCS finding against Ruby, RurAL CAP Inc. did not hire him, a human resources employee at the corporation said.
But the effects of the OCS finding didn't stop there. In 2001, Ruby was dating the woman to whom he is now married, Rebecca Ruby; she was in the middle of a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband, Michael Treadwell.
In the course of custody proceedings, OCS investigator Rose Sandhofer sent a letter to Rebecca that stated: "Our data base records indicate that Rebecca's boyfriend, Mark Ruby, has substantiated sexual abuse in 1995, meaning that he was the perpetrator of sexual abuse. The Office of Children's Services recommends that the children not be allowed to visit their mother, Rebecca, while Mark Ruby is present."
A copy of this letter was also sent to Treadwell and his attorney. Rebecca said the OCS letter was used as ammunition in an already combative custody battle, and her ex-husband told her he posted the letter online and told everyone he could about Ruby and the OCS finding against him.
"There has been irreparable damage to my relationship with my children because of this," Rebecca said. "I was surprised at OCS's attitude toward me because I was with Mark, and [OCS's] careless regard for the information they throw around."
Last month, Ruby received a letter from OCS staff manager Christy Lawton about the letter sent to Rebecca and Treadwell during their custody case; it stated: "The letter served as a cautionary advisement to your now partner and her ex-husband about allowing their children to have unsupervised contact with you due to the past investigation. This disclosure ... did not need to include such specific investigative information and we apologize for any difficulties this may have caused you."
The Rubys believe it was because of the OCS letter and OCS recommendations that Rebecca failed to win custody of her three children.
"During my custody battle, I became aware that any child, for any reason, can make an accusation and even if the police don't believe it, OCS can make a finding against you," Rebecca said. "I found out OCS is their own entity that operates outside the law, and they can deny your constitutional right to due process. That was very sobering."
In the wake of Rebecca's child-custody case, Ruby began to realize how far-reaching the effects of an OCS finding could be.
"This is why my wife lost her custody battle," he said. "And this is why I can't get a job in my field."
Look for the second installment of this story in Sunday's Frontiersman.
Due process, child protection collide
JOHN DAVIDSON/Frontiersman reporter
WRONGFULLY TAKEN | TONYA RYAN 0 • 2004-03-22 21:21 0
Hi My name is Tonya Ryan, back in Oct. 2000, I made plans to leave Alaska for good. Along with my 6yr. old daughter now 9 and a half. One of the main reasons for leaving was to get away from my possessive ex-husband. Javier O. Robinson whom I tried to continue to be friends with after marriage. He used to babysit my daughter Ahshah while I worked. Well, one day after work after Javier had left my daughter told me Javier kept asking her questions about me. Like who comes to see your momma, what's your momma planning to do, where is she going. Mind you while he's asking my 6 yr. old child these questions he's already in a relationship of a year or so. So anyway he continued to ask my child these questions. And told my child if she didn't tell him what he wanted to know he would spank her. So I talked to him and told him if he wanted to know something about me to ask me not her and if I wanted him to know I would tell him. He said, O.K., yet he continued to question my 6yr. old child. And my child kept telling me. So that made me even more determined to get away from him. Because he totally disrespected my wishes as her mother regarding her best interest. And totally disrespected her with intimidation. So while packing and selling my stuff to leave he went and lied and told the court and his lawyer that me and him had joint custody of my 6 yr. old child since birth. Though it's clearly stated in our divorce papers that he is not the biological father of my child. That didn't seem to matter to Anchorage Alaska. Anchorage Alaska's Court System gave him a court order to give to me stating I couldn't leave the state of Alaska with my own child. They also name him my child's psychological father. Though the three of us never lived together as a family. So in anchorage Alaska if a woman decides she doesn't want to be with a man anymore, or wants that man in her or her child's/children's life anymore all that man has to do is claim psychological father. And take your child rather their the biological father or not. How sick is that? He's not only intimidated my child but also rubbed his private against my child's bottom twice and got away with it. And I left Alaska against a court order because it was in the best interest of my child's well-being. So he got another court order from Alaska and found out where we were went to my child's school while I was at work and kidnaped my child from school with police assistance, put her on a plane back to Alaska, they never even let her say bye to me or anything. Then after my child was already in the air on her way back to Alaska with this psycho the police came to my job and told me what just happened. And there was nothing I could do about it because it was Alaska's law and they couldn't interfere, is what I was told. So I came back to Alaska to fight for my child. I got her back after DFYS investigated me and found nothing on me. And no reason why I couldn't have my own child. So they returned her to me. And at the time we were living in a homeless shelter And the shelter refused to be a 3rd. party for us as requested by his lawyer. So they took my child again, and this time put her in a foster home for over a month. I only had visitation then, at the DFYS office. Then when I found another place to live they gave her back to me again. Then Javier and his lawyer won her in court, claiming I was a psychological threat to her well-being, because they couldn't come up with anything else. I don't drink, smoke, do drugs, I don't have a criminal record, I don't have a DFYS record for abuse or anything. So they had me take a psychological evaluation which is not an exact science, and which I later found out I didn't have to take but I didn't have a lawyer and didn't know that and they used the misfortunes of my childhood to say I was a psychological threat to my child's well-being, then one of Javier's cop brothers gave me a ticket which was my first ticket ever. Claiming I was speeding, which I know I wasn't but his brother used his position of authority to harass me, then when I finally got my first lawyer, he screwed me for my money which I barely had to pay a lawyer, then I fired him, and later on got another lawyer who did the same thing to me. So here I sit now with no lawyer and all I get is visitation with my daughter who is now 9 and a half. And it's now 2004 and we're still going through this injustice. So to date Javier and the Alaska court system is guilty of sexual, physical, emotional, and mental abuse of a minor, and what is being done about it? Nothing? And my child and me continue to be in this prison. My child was taken from me on bull crap. And she's been traumatized, violated sexually by him twice and the courts gave him physical and sole legal custody of my child. And he continues to abuse her with absolutely no accountability to no one, and sits back and laughs about it like it's a game. He's ruined my child. All to get revenge on me for leaving him. And this is the norm here in anchorage Alaska. He gets her dividends and tax breaks as well. And I have to pay him child support on top of it all. How can such sickness happen in America land of the free. What's free about the prison that me and my child are in. And while the rest of the world remembers sept. 11, 01 I remember sept. 21st 2001 the day they let this monster take my child. Then got a restraining order against me so if I try to go get my child, I go to jail. And what would be my crime except rescuing my child from the prison of a psycho. And he's not even her father but they have named him her psychological father and she still til this day cries to come home. And I've written every agency here in town to get help and every one keeps passing the buck. I've even written all the talk shows to no avail. Even tv stations here to no avail. It's like no one cares. But me. Can anyone out there expose this injustice in hopes that my child can come home and stop this monster from taking anymore years of our lives. Which we can never get back. Please help for the sake of my child and my sanity. I was pregnant with my current husband's child when they took my 9 and a half, and it was a very stressful pregnancy I was put on bed rest and had to have an emergency c-section. And because of all the stress I've been enduring, I have a terrible pain in the right side of the back of my head. And I recently found out brain aneurysms run in our family and have killed family members. So my fear is the stress of all this injustice will kill me and take me away from both my kids all because the courts here in anchorage Alaska helped a psycho get revenge. They call anchorage Alaska really all of Alaska a man's state. Because this is the kind of madness men get away with here. Then Javier set out to break up my current marriage with a forged letter stating I said my child was not my husband's child. And he showed this to my husband. But my husband knew better and came home and told me all about it. And he regretted not getting a copy of this letter to show to the court. He's been trying to do everything possible to destroy my marriage. And he almost succeeded but me and my husband are hanging in there in spite of. God help us! This madness has been going on for over 3yrs. now. Javier and his wife Kim have made my child swallow her own vomit 4 times and so far has gotten away with that as well. So to date Javier and/or Kim have gotten away with sexually violating my child twice, kidnaping, mental and emotional abuse. Javier has even threatened to beat my child to death if she ever told on him again. Why would he threaten her if he had nothing to hide. And even spanked her about something that was written in my motion for return of custody. And the judge that let him get away with this is Judge Mark Rindner. Also my child has been assigned to guardian at lietem (GAL). She has not done her job properly since coming aboard this case. She even used her connection as a GAL/Lawyer to try to block the judge from getting my motion paperwork. Also used her connections at child protective services to help Javier cover up his abuse of my child with a child protective worker named Erica Johnson. Erica Johnson went to Ahshah school to question her about Javier’s mistreatment of her. And Erica was very mean to Ahshah according to Ahshah during Erica questioning her. And was trying to get Ahshah to say something mean about me her mother. Sara Acharya, Erica Johnson, Javier Robinson, Kim Wild, Val Miraglia, have all put their heads together to attack me her mother with lies to try to make it appear that I’m an unfit mother. And that I made up lies to turn Ahshah against Javier. All of which is a lie. This crap has been going on for almost 29 months now. And I’ve been telling Judge Mark Rindner about all this. But he ignores all the information I give him. And continue to let Javier get away with it. I even suggested that the judge talk to Ahshah himself in chambers. But he refuses claiming he’s not qualified. When all he’s got to do is have someone who is qualified to talk to Ahshah in his present. Someone other than, Sarah Acharya, and Val Miraglia, who tells Javier everything, Ahshah and her discuss. Which puts Ahshah in harms way because Javier threatens and beats Ahshah for saying certain things to Val Miraglia Ahshah’s counselor. So while Ahshah’s crying out for help all she’s getting is more abuse. And in Alaska no one gives a damn! That’s why Alaska has the highest rate of child abuse in the nation. And it’s not at the hands of the parents as much as it is the hands of the so-called system that is suppose to protect the children. The name of dfys (division of family and youth services) has been changed to Office Of Children’s Services. But the same injustice continues, because the same wicked people work their. And Sarah Acharya is suppose to be helping protect my child, but is helping to hurt my child all to get at me for telling the judge she wasn’t doing her job. Which she wasn’t doing then or now. There needs to be a thorough investigation of all parties mentioned in this letter. This happens all the time on a daily basis in Anchorage Alaska. “THE LAST FRONTIER” IT SHOULD BE CALLED: “THE CAPITAL OF CHILD ABUSE!” Judge Mark Rindner has a history of wrongfully taking children away from their mothers, there is 3 cases that I know of myself included. And the 3 of us are black. So I don’t know if he’s anti-black, anti-woman, or just downright anti-just. But he needs to be investigated to the max. Because I’m sure there’s hundreds of children that have been wrongfully traumatized because of his unjust judgements. He shouldn’t even be a judge. So many of his judgements get overturned for wrongfully taking children away from their mothers. Along with Sarah Acharya -GAL, And Erica Johnson-(Office Of Child Protective Services). They all collectively down-play all the things that has happened and continue to happen to my child. Javier Oddie Robinson has started this whole thing with the lie that I hate white people and hit my child in the eye. And Javier and his family and friends help him with this same lie. He also has two brothers who are cops who mis-use their positions of authority to help him harass me, with more lies and their connections. So while my child is being abused mentally, emotionally, and physically all these people with their connections has built a wall around my child so she can’t get help. And so she can’t come home. This is what happens in Alaska to women who try to stand up for themselves and leave crazy men like Javier Oddie Robinson. A woman should have the right to decide what man she wants in her and her child’s life. But in Alaska their sick twisted laws take your rights away. Especially if you don’t have money to fight their injustices. Then they all gang up on the woman and label her with a personality disorder or some other crap that they make up along the way. I also feel I’m being targeted for what I believe in as well. As well as being outspoken. Of which both are my rights. I have been screwed from every angle possible. And I continue to get railroaded. And my child continues to get abused. With all that has happened to my child and me and continues to happen, I have grounds for some serious law suits. Against the State Of Alaska and The Court System. And these so-called professionals.
IF YOU ARE A LAWYER AND CAN HELP ME PLEASE CONTACT ME TONYA RYAN AT: 1-907- 278-2009. I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY SO IF YOU’LL BE WILLING TO DO IT PRO BONO JUST BECAUSE YOU LIKE A GOOD FIGHT, ESPECIALLY FIGHTING FOR INJUSTICES MY CHILD AND ME WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE IT!. CONTACT ME ASAP. BECAUSE I HAVE A UP-COMING COURT DATE AND DESPERATELY NEED A LAWYER. SO IF YOU’RE A LAWYER WHO’S NOT AFRAID TO FIGHT AND GET DOWN RIGHT DIRTY, GLOVES OFF!!!!! JUST LIKE THE PARTIES MENTIONED IN THIS LETTER CONTACT ME AT: TONYA RYAN AT: 1-907-278-2009 I NEED A LAWYER.
SO I NEED ALL THE HELP I CAN GET TO EXPOSE ANCHORAGE ALASKA FOR THIS INJUSTICE AND CHILD ABUSE THAT’S GOING ON AGAINST MY CHILD AND MANY OTHER CHILDREN ACROSS ALASKA WITH ABSOLUTELY NO ACCOUNTABILITY OF NONE OF THE PARTIES MENTIONED IN THIS LETTER. SO THEIR GUILTY OF COLLECTIVELY ABUSING MY CHILD, MENTALLY, EMOTIONALLY, AND PHYSICALLY.
ATTENTION ALL TV STATIONS, RADIO STATIONS OR REPORTERS LOOKING FOR A GOOD STORY HERE IT IS!!!!!!!!!!! CONTACT TONYA RYAN AT: 907-278-2009
PLEASE HELP ME SAVE MY CHILD FROM ON-GOING CHILD ABUSE. AND EXPOSE ALASKA FOR IT’S ON-GONG PROBLEM WITH CHILD ABUSE. ALASKA ONLY PRETENDS TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS OF CHILD ABUSE JUST TO GET THE FUNDS!
SINCERELY, TONYA RYAN (AHSHAH SHAKUURAH’S MOTHER) [respond]