September 1, 2012

DHHS to 10-year-old's mom: You share the blame

The agency says Amanda Huard knew her daughter was a danger to children before a 3-month-old died in her home.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Michael Shepherd mshepherd@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD —  The mother of a 10-year-old Fairfield girl who is charged with manslaughter knew that her daughter was a danger to children but still left her in charge of an infant, the state says, so the mother shares responsibility for the baby's death.

Amanda Huard, 30, has not been charged in the death of 3-month-old Brooklyn Foss-Greenaway of Clinton, who was left in her care July 7 and was pronounced dead the next day. Prosecutors have a higher burden of proof than does the Department of Health and Human Services caseworker who accused Huard of "high-severity neglect."

In a letter to Huard dated Aug. 10, the DHHS said: "You were responsible for Brooklyn Foss-Greenaway's care on the night that she died. ... Brooklyn Foss-Greenaway has died as a result of your neglect."

The letter told Huard that even though "you knew that Brooklyn was screaming" while in her daughter's care, "you did not remove Brooklyn from (her) care."

The letter also says the daughter has behavioral issues and requires treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and attachment disorder, but Huard failed to follow through with treatment plans and make sure that her daughter was taking medication.

In addition, the letter says, "You knew that (the 10-year-old girl) should not be babysitting children but have continued to allow her to do so." The letter does not specify why the girl shouldn't be babysitting.

Huard did not return telephone calls seeking comment Friday.

Nicole Greenaway, 36, Brooklyn's mother, said she holds Huard responsible and did so even before she received a copy of the DHHS letter.

"She needs to be held responsible" and the letter proves it, she said Friday. "This paper says it in black and white, that she's responsible. She allowed her daughter to do it."

The letter, written by Christopher Filteau, a caseworker for the DHHS, is a "Notice of Substantiation or Indication and Your Right to Appeal" that was sent to Huard. Greenaway said she was given a copy because her daughter was the victim.

DHHS rules say a "substantiation" of abuse or neglect means that, according to the department's interpretation of evidence, a caregiver "has caused and/or is likely to cause high severity child abuse and neglect. This person is considered a danger to children."

A substantiated person can appeal a ruling, but it's not clear whether Huard has done so.

Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said he learned about the document only when contacted by MaineToday Media. He said the state's burden of proof in a criminal case is higher than that for caseworkers who determine whether a home is safe for a child.

Stokes has directed the DHHS not to release any details about abuse or neglect that may relate to the criminal case against the 10-year-old.

Greenaway said it was at Huard's urging that she left Brooklyn and her 2-year-old daughter, Maddison, at Huard's home at 330 Center Road in Fairfield on the night of July 7.

Huard had said that her 10-year-old was arguing about going to summer camp the next Monday and promised to go quietly if Greenaway's girls spent the night that Saturday, Greenaway said.

Huard had told Greenaway that her 10-year-old was "a baby freak. She loved babies." Greenaway said her daughters had stayed overnight at Huard's home two or three times without any problems.

Greenaway and the girls spent that Saturday afternoon driving back from the Downeast Correctional Facility in Charleston, where they visited her husband, the girls' father. She said she got home, packed their overnight bags -- a change of clothes and formula for Brooklyn -- and took them to Huard's house in nearby Fairfield.

Greenaway visited her brother, then went home and was asleep in bed by 11:30 p.m., she said.

Greenaway said Brooklyn's bassinette was brought up to the 10-year-old's room on the second floor of Huard's home.

She said she doesn't know where Maddison slept, whether in the 10-year-old's room or in the room of Huard's 9-year-old daughter. That daughter lived with her father but visited her mother. The father has since asked a court to remove Huard's custody rights.

After Brooklyn's death, the 10-year-old was placed in state custody.

Ashley Tenney, 20, who was staying in Huard's basement at the time, said she heard a commotion upstairs around 1:30 a.m. on July 8 and heard the word "dead."

About 1:40 a.m., Greenaway got a call from Huard, who said they had found Brooklyn not breathing and she had to go to the hospital. Then she hung up.

As they waited for word on Brooklyn's condition at MaineGeneral Medical Center's Thayer campus in Waterville, the 10-year-old was impatient, Greenaway said. "She just kept saying, 'I'm tired, I want to go. I want to know what's going on.'

"I recall saying to her, 'It's not about you. It's about Brook.' Amanda told her to come and sit next to her and said, 'You didn't do anything.'"

Finally, a Maine State Police detective took Greenaway into an exam room.

"He said, 'I don't know how to tell you, but (Brooklyn) didn't make it.'" Greenaway said.

Police then interviewed her for two hours, she said, and later asked to see photos she had taken Saturday -- time-stamped photos that showed the child had no injuries just before Greenaway dropped her off at Huard's house.

Later, she told Huard that the DHHS would probably want to question her. "She just freaked out on me on the phone, like it was an inconvenience," Greenaway said.

A week later, a state police detective told Greenaway that the state Medical Examiner's Office had determined that her baby's death was not from natural causes. At that point, she started blaming Huard.

"To me, I think she should be arrested, put in jail and charged," Greenaway said Friday.

Greenaway said she was told by police that Huard told them she was watching movies on television while Brooklyn was crying.

When her daughter's body was released to the funeral home after an autopsy, she saw that the girl had "fingerprint" bruises on her face, a black eye and a bruised nose, she said. The medical examiner, she was told, ruled the cause of death suffocation.

Greenaway says she was also told that traces of a type of medication prescribed to the 10-year-old were found in her baby's system.

Greenaway said she still works with Huard at Elmwood Primary Care in Waterville but avoids talking to her.

Stokes, in the Attorney General's Office, said it may be some time before a juvenile petition -- the formal charging document -- is filed in Skowhegan District Court.

Had the 10-year-old been detained by police, the document would have to have been filed within 24 hours. Because she was issued a summons to appear in court Oct. 22, there is no need to hurry, Stokes said.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 621-5632 or at:

mshepherd@mainetoday.com

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Nobody was home Friday at 330 Center Road in Fairfield, where police say an infant was killed by a 10-year-old girl in July.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

  


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