Child Protective Services Described as Bullies

     PHOENIX (CN) – A caseworker in Arizona’s Department of Child Safety stopped a teenager from asserting sexual abuse claims against her father, ejected her attorney, then had the girl handcuffed and took her clothes and belongings away because the girl had run away while under the agency’s care, the teenager claims in court.
     Nikea McPeak sued Arizona, the City of Chandler, caseworker Kristin Kidd, Det. Daniel Coons and Det. Paul Kee, Maricopa County Court.
     According to the July 10 lawsuit, McPeak went with her attorney, Keith Knowlton, to the Chandler Police Department in April 2012 to participate in an investigation into allegations that McPeak had been sexually abused by her father.
     At the time McPeak – who was under juvenile court supervision – says she had run away from her foster home while under the care of the then-named Child Protective Services. Child Protective Services was replaced with the Department of Child Safety this year after a large number of complaints were filed against the agency regarding how it handled abuse and neglect claims.
     McPeak says Det. Coons contacted McPeak’s caseworker, Kristin Kidd, who told Coons to have Knowlton removed from the police station and not allowed to help McPeak in the interview because he was not her juvenile court-appointed lawyer. Knowlton “was forced to leave Nikea McPeak in the police station without any counsel present,” the complaint states. McPeak is represented in this lawsuit by Knowlton.
     McPeak refused to participate in the interview without Knowlton, and Dets. Coons and Paul Kee “turned custody of Nikea back to the CPS case worker, Kristin Kidd, who had appeared at the police department,” according to the complaint.
     Kidd asked Coons and Kee to search McPeak, and when they found that McPeak had an iPod Touch, Kidd ordered her to give it to her, the complaint states. When McPeak refused, she says, Coons, Kee, and an unknown officer grabbed her arms “as she sat on the floor and took the iPod from her.”
     Kidd had McPeak handcuffed and sent back to her group home in the back of a cop car.
     McPeak, who was carrying a bag of clothing at the police station, says Kidd took out one pair of underwear, one pair of shorts, and one shirt from the bag and gave them to her to wear, and took the rest of the bag. She did not return the clothing to McPeak for a month, leaving her nothing else to wear during that time. “Kidd wanted to send a clear message … that failure to immediately do what they said would result in force or other actions taken against her,” according to the complaint.
     McPeak seeks compensatory and punitive damages for negligence, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     She is represented by Keith Knowlton, of Tempe.

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