Child Welfare Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Unlawfully Removing Children From Parents in NC
By Megan Fox
This report is part of an investigative series looking into reported corruption in family courts and the judiciary. For the rest of the investigation, visit the catalog here.
David Hughes, the former child welfare supervisor in Cherokee County, N.C., has pled guilty to two misdemeanors for his role in the unlawful removal of children from their families in a scheme that removed them using fake documents meant to look like court orders. The Carolina Public Press reports:
Hughes and his colleagues separated families using what they called a Custody and Visitation Agreement. While it looked like a legal document, two judges ruled the CVA did not carry the force of law and said the child separations were unlawful.
In exchange for his testimony against the others indicted, 10 felony obstruction charges were dropped. Not only that, but the sweet deal Hughes was offered included postponed sentencing on the misdemeanors, meaning he won’t see a day in jail for kidnapping children. For that kind of deal, Hughes must have given up information that will lead to lengthy jail sentences for the others involved, though the outcome remains to be seen.
Along with Hughes, the grand jury indicted former Cherokee County DSS Director Cindy Palmer, who is currently the DSS business officer. She faces two felony obstruction-of-justice charges, two misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor charge of willful failure to discharge duties and a felony perjury charge.
The grand jury also indicted former DSS attorney Scott Lindsay on 20 felony obstruction-of-justice charges, two misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor charge of willful failure to discharge duties.