Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Northampton County Children & Youth Update

Northampton County's Children & Youth workers are devastated by the recent arrest of one of their own caseworkers. Jose Huertas-Aponte had been working for the county for about six months. He had been wanted for about five years after skipping bail in Puerto Rico on charges of molesting a 14 year-old boy.


County officials, concerned about the confidentiality owed to to both children as well as a former worker, won't answer questions. CYF workers are understandably upset - they can't defend themselves or fellow workers. They also feel betrayed that one of their colleagues may be engaged in the very behavior they try to prevent. One of them, on condition of anonymity, has already told us (1) Huertas did get the usual background check; (2) Most of his time with the county, he was a probationary employee in the adolescent unit with a maximum caseload of seven cases; and (3) he did, unfortunately, have access to children.

I've recently discovered the following additional information.

1) Background check. - The US Marshal Service in Puerto Rico does not routinely enter information into NCIC. If the information was never entered, it would not come up on any criminal background check.

2) Prior Employment. - Huertas- Aponte had been living solely in the US for two years and had actually been working for another Children and Youth Agency in New Jersey before coming to Northampton County.

3) Family Notification. - The families that Huertas- Aponte worked with have not been directly informed of the charges against him, but each of the children on his caseload have been interviewed by a supervisor with the Child Protective Service Unit.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is eerily reminescent of when Stoffa was the head of Human Services and Lehigh County had to come in and take over the department after two tragedies. Why didn't Stoffa ask this guy to submit to a polygraph. CYS asks parents that it suspects of absue to take them . . .

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's weird. Since Lehiggh Counrt was presumably in charge ofd its own Human Services department, I don't know how it can take over what it already runs. This is just a piece of misinformation by a very bitter person who is upset that his bogus unemployment was stopped by the county. Try running that during the election.

Valima said...

Bernie, might I implore you to use the term 'living on the US mainland' or as islanders say 'living in the states'. Not to get into semantics however saying he 'has been living in the US' suggest that he's not a citizen. :)

And I'm disturbed that the US Marshalls in PR are not readily updating databases. I sense some investigative journalism on the rise.. Do all US Marshall offices update databases regularly or as they see fit?!

One would think that becuase this man was on the lam, government offices (on every level) would make sure that the info is out there and up to date.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Valima,

You're right. I stand corrected.

Anonymous said...

Correction: the state took over Lehigh County Human Services under Stoffa. Will history repeat itself in Norco ?

Anonymous said...

Northampton County CYF has done nothing wrong. They passed their annual inspection back in April. They ran all the clearance necessary before this guy started working there. How can you fault them for doing everything in their control to screen their employees? This guy made it through the screening process of at least three Agencies. Do not blame Mr. Stoffa or CYF because the screening system is flawed.

Anonymous said...

Did Northampton County use the existing clearance on this guy or request a new one? Did Northampton County do an emergency hire on this guy before all or anyt new information was obtanined? This is not about caseworkers they did nothing wrong, this is either an accident or the incompetent policies that allow emergency hires to deal with children before all facts are known.
Those that wish to civer this up are as bad if not worse than those who say there is no problem move along.
Hopefully, the State will be called in to complete a complete investigation of this incident to prevent endangering children in the future.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:51,

There is a gentleman who claims to have written a book, just about his dealings with Northampton County CYF. I was supposed to meet him last week, but was tied up. I will try and get his story, but am concerrned that some folks let their undersandable passions cloud their judgment.

But what I've been told is that all the necessary clearances were run before this hire. As explained in my post, the fault apparently lies with the marchall's Service in PR, which failed to input information concerning the arrest. In addition, Huertas worked for a c&y agency in Jersey. This would mean that two agencies had to screw up. So I think you're pretty much off base in your demand for a state takeover. Nothing prevents you from making a complaint to the state, but I see no reason to do so.

Anonymous said...

BO sees no reason to protect kids because his buddy Stoffa is there. If it were another Executive he would be screaming bloody murder like he has in the past. God help the children.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Was Stoffa in charge of the NJ C&Y facility where Huertas worked? Is it Stoffa who failed to enter the arrest data in Puerto Rico? Is Stoffa employed as a US Marshall?

You don't give a rat's ass about the children. All you care about is dirtying up Stoffa. And as usual, you'll fail. You must be really upset over losing that unemployment compensation.

Anonymous said...

The one problem Bernie is that they put this guy in without new paperwork.
You should be addressing the frequent use of emergency hires that skirt the responsible path to protecting children.
Stop covering their backsides. There is no difinitive proof PR dropped the ball, we do know he was hired before all new papers cleared.
Lets focus on the problem not personalities and their defense.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You claim "they" put this guy in w/ the appropriate paperwork. i don't know that. What I do know is that (1) he was checked out by three different law enforcement agencies before he ever went to work for the county; (2) he was employed by a C&Y agency in Jersey, whcih presumably checked him out as well; (3) a US Marshall in PR failed to enter the arrest in NCIC's database.

After reporting this, to claim that Stoffa is somehow responsible is clearly just a partisan slam by someone who doesn't give a shit about children. But I'll tell you what - blame Stoffa. He'd rather see the heat directed at him than at the very dedicated staff of Northampton County's CYF.

Anonymous said...

That wasn't the case when the kids died in Lehigh County under his watch. He threw everyone including the County Executive under the bus. Caseworkers, Supervisors, everyine but him.
What a stand up guy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Substantiate with facts or identify yourself. If you do not, this vicious anonymous personal attack will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

There is a sad story coming out of Philadelphia. Finally law enforcement are holing Human Service operations accountable when a child dies.