The Morning Call has attempted to explain why it refused to cover Ce-Ce Gerlach's alleged child endangerment (she dropped a minor off at a tent city) and failed to report suspected child abuse. One of its many poor excuses is that it was unable to verify the facts with anyone, including community activist Jeani Haskins Garcia. If the paper tried to speak to her at all, it was a feeble attempt. Alfonso Todd, aka The Savage Entrepreneur, had no difficulty persuading her to appear on his podcast.
Garcia, whose son was a shooting victim of gang violence in 2012, is considered a community activist. But she considers herself a mother first and spoke at length about her son and the grief she felt when he was taken away from her. She formed Mother2Mother, a nonprofit to assist parents who lose their children to violence, drug overdoses or suicide.
She cares deeply about children and spoke about Grace Packer, a product of our dysfunctional state system. That child was preyed upon and murdered by the people who were supposed to be caring for her.
It is thanks to her Facebook post in April that fellow blogger James Whitney began to look into this story.
Here's part of what she told Alfonso Todd about the Ce-Ce Gerlach case:
"[Gerlach] was an intake worker, an outreach worker, a street worker. She got a phone call at 7 o'clock at night from a runaway, and he asked for help.After doing his intake, Ce-Ce thought it was in his best interests to take him to an unsheltered encampment in Allentown, which we used to call tent city. ... She failed to do her job and let his child down, and in the process of him being in this encampment, he was subjected to sexual abuse. Nothing physical happened, but he was solicited for sex - a sexual act.
"It was brought to my attention by some of the unsheltered people I helped in the past ... . Ultimately, we ended up getting the young boy - the child - the help that he needed. Now that's escalated into [Ce-Ce] being charged with child endangerment and failure to report this incident because she's a mandated reporter.
"There's been a lot of stuff going on and I'm getting a lot of heat it for certain things. I'm standing here unapologetic. This will pass for Ce-Ce. This will pass for me. But this will not pass for the young man who was subjected to that. ... If your kid runs away from home - some run away for good reasons, some run away from home just because they don't want to follow rules - and then you get a kid who reaches out to some organization and asks for help from Ce-Ce, and you get an intake worker who takes you to a tent city, an unsheltered encampment at night, in the dark, with adults who have mental health issues, drug addiction issues, alcohol, there's so much that goes down in those communities that I would never take a child. ... There are just some things our kids should not see. ...
Todd asked Garcia what needs to change:
I think that people who say they have organizations representing the youth be held accountable to do so. I think the reporting needs to be more in-depth. ... If you say you're doing something for the kids and you're getting these grants and you're getting money and you're out here publicizing that you work for the youth and you're here to protect the youth, then DO YOUR JOB! DO YOUR JOB! Integrity shows when nobody's looking, when the camera's not there, when the politics aren't involved ..."
"I'm not going to sit back and not sound the alarm."
She's sounding the alarm for the kids of Allentown. She notes children attending schools in Allentown get about $5,000-6,000 per student, while neighboring school districts are raking in $16,000 per student. She noted that the William Allen graduation at J Brirney Crum had to be postponed three times because of the weather and was finally held in blistering heat. Meanwhile, neighboring school districts held their graduations at PPL Center.
She indicated people like Gerlach need to start taking accountability. "She's literally in the media saying, 'I did nothing wrong.' ... She's not saying she didn't do it. She definitely admitted she took him there. What she's saying is she did nothing wrong. And that scares me. And that's why I can't have empathy at this point.
"We all make mistakes. I've made plenty of mistakes. Accountability starts when you say, ' I messed up. I messed up."
"When it comes to a kid and the safety of a child, that's where I draw the line. I'm sorry. Call me what you want."
"It took eight months for something to happen. It took my Facebook post to bring it to light again and I'm getting all the blame for it.
"I did my job. I reported her to Childline and I felt like the community needed to know."