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If they build it, the cases will come 

This week has proven once again that the Department of Human Services, in particular the Child Welfare Program, is completely out of control, especially in Douglas County, Oregon. They operate with gestapo type tactics and authority, including unannounced raids and confiscation of children from their parents, yet are virtually un-accountable. 

For those who have been Beacon subscribers over the past several years, you will remember the case of Ajay Pichette we followed (from December 2010-2012) where DHS took a seven week old infant child from her mother; who had not been charged with child abuse, substance abuse, or any other crime for that matter, and the ensuing fight which lasted over four years and cost the taxpayers in excess of one hundred thousand dollars, before finally returning the child to her mother. 

The case in question went all the way to the Oregon Court of Appeals, twice, where the mother’s right to her daughter was upheld, and yet the aggressive Douglas County CPS filed appeal after appeal, keeping the child from her mother.

This week Circuit Court Judge George Ambrosini heard a case involving an alleged abuse of a minor child by the father Paul Eckel of Roseburg, and after several hours of testimony ruled that there was no legitimate reason to keep the father from continuing to parent his four children in accordance with the joint custody agreement. He found there was no evidence to suggest the children were in danger of physical harm from their father.

Within a half hour of the court’s ruling, Child Protective Services filed a motion to assume custody of all four children. The father, Paul Eckel was forced back into court, to again make the case that his children are in fact loved and safe in his custody.

The next day, the lone Paul Eckel faced an army of DHS case workers, lawyers and psychologists, along with representatives from the Oregon Justice Department and the Douglas County District Attorney’s office.

As of this writing the children’s mother has custody of the children, although the court has assumed jurisdiction and has issued an order to allow the father unsupervised visits with the youngest child, and supervised visits only with the three older children, the oldest of which is ten. The court further ordered that those supervising the visitation with the father must be mandatory reporters of child abuse who are approved by CPS.

A court date to determine the long-term jurisdiction status of the children and their father, by statute, must occur within sixty days and has been set for November the 9th.

Meanwhile across town at the site of the old Douglas Community Hospital building on West Harvard Avenue, a massive office building is being constructed to house the expanding DHS offices. It is noteworthy that as a real estate broker I can tell you there are virtually no buildings being built to house office space for private sector businesses. But while private sector growth is stagnant at best, big government is big business as evidenced by the construction of the huge new complex for DHS.  Our fear is that as DHS expands into their new facility they will be driven to support it by bringing more and more cases against parents which drives federal dollars into their coffers. If they build it, they’ll come (the cases).

We have tracked several abuses of the local DHS offices and have observed several staff firings and reassignments out of area to cover their past mistakes. One former director of the local office now serves as a private investigator looking into DHS abuses of authority. One thing is for certain, if a complaint is filed against a parent, with or without evidence, the current operating assumption is; guilty until proven innocent!

We have tracked several cases over the past six years and have witnessed first-hand the damage caused to children and their parents when an overzealous CPS exerts their unlimited authority.

Paul Eckel is being represented by attorney Rahn Hostetter of Enterprise Oregon. Hostetter was the attorney who was successful in getting Ajay Pichette’s custody of her daughter back in 2012. We will be tracking this case closely and will be reporting the status going forward.

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