Department of Human Services
By Joseph Snook
This is an exposé on the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) and how they stripped three young children from their mother. This article will reflect on how it was done under the auspice of “keeping the children safe.” The tactics DHS used, the rights they abused, the evidence they created and the evidence they simply turned a blind-eye towards is something every mother and father should be aware of. This is a – “Gripping Look into the Department of Human Services.”
When it comes to the safety of children, and their well-being, it is very important to understand that some families endure problematic events that present circumstances where action needs to be taken. Sometimes, removing children from parent(s) to protect everyone in the family is a necessary decision. Sometimes it is not, and this is when the US~Observer gets involved…
As an investigative reporter, I have witnessed many examples of government agencies that don’t always do the right thing. For many reasons, the interests of certain government agencies can potentially alter government employees intentions. Sadly, for Amber Caitlin Parker, her three young children have been “stolen by DHS.”
DHS Background – From DHS:
“The 1971 Oregon Legislature created the Oregon Department of Human Resources, an agency providing a spectrum of human services to individuals, families and communities.
“The 2001 Oregon Legislature reorganized the department and changed its name to the Oregon Department of Human Services. In 2009 the Oregon Legislature transferred many of the health related functions to the newly created Oregon Health Authority. Today, the Department of Human Services key functions serve children, adults and families and seniors and people with disabilities.”
“They (DHS) Stole My Heart”
–Amber Caitlin Parker
Albany, OR – After years of abuse endured during two separate intimate relationships, Amber Parker found herself alone, supporting her three young children. Amber’s life was threatened on more than one occasion by her former boyfriend David Boatright, father of her oldest child.
Michael Duran, father of Amber’s two youngest children and currently married (divorce has been filed) to Amber, had also reportedly threatened and attempted to take her life numerous times.
David Boatwright’s criminal history as described in a psychological report, which reflects on DHS documents produced by former DHS employee Kimberly Williams, shows that he has an extensive criminal record. Williams’ report didn’t differentiate between charges and convictions wherein the crimes included Assault I, Attempted assault of a public safety officer in 2011, Assault IV/Domestic Violence in 2008, Domestic Abuse/Harassment in 2007, Harassment in 2007, Assault/Harassment in 2006, Criminal Mischief II in 2006, Criminal Mischief II in 2007 and Menacing in 2005. Williams wrote that Boatright has a history of alcohol and drug abuse and domestic violence. It was confirmed according to documents obtained that Boatright would submit to random UA’s and anger management/domestic violence batterer’s programming. No information was obtained that confirmed whether or not these courses were completed. This reporter attempted to communicate with Mr. Boatright after a recent full review hearing, but was unable to make contact.
Criminal history for Michael Duran was described in a psyche exam, which reflected on a report also produced by Kimberly Williams of DHS. His record reflected: “forcible entry”, likely burglary in August of 2000, Possession of Controlled Substance (PCS) in 2002, Open Container in 2002, DUII in 2003, PCS in 2004, Assault IV in 2005, Attempt to elude in 2008. Convictions were for Assault IV, DUII, and attempt to elude. It is somewhat unclear which of these “charges” and “convictions” may have represented the same instances. Further inquiry into Duran’s criminal history revealed the following: Parole violation on 11/10/11, Burglary I, PCS in 2005, Manufacture of Rock Cocaine, Felony drug possession 2005, felony drug possession 2006, Child neglect 1st degree 2005, Endangering welfare 2005, Contempt of court 2004. Duran is currently awaiting trial on reported Assault charges against Amber Caitlin Parker (police reports were used in our findings). Mr. Duran was contacted by this reporter and stated that, he was, “Advised not to talk to any reporters.” He further stated that, “He would be willing to talk, once everything was over.”
“I think PTSD played a factor in the following months after this whole thing started. Still, I flinch when guys move too quickly if I don’t trust them – which is most of them, or when they raise their voice.”
— Amber Parker
Reported text messages sent from Michael Duran to Amber stated that he would “paint her house in red with her blood.” In the fairly small community of Albany Oregon, one former neighbor of Duran’s stated, “His father was in prison for murder, and he has many family members who are into drugs and violence. Michael Duran is probably the worst Duran I know of.”
“Michael and I were arguing (I think about his partying), we were in our bedroom next to the bed, he lifted me up by my neck about 6 inches – 1 foot off the ground and held me against the wall. When he let go about 5-10 seconds later, I almost fell onto our (at the time 2-3 week old) son. I put my hands down to stop myself from landing on him. My neck was very sore and I couldn’t turn my head to the right for several days afterwards. I had 3 small bruises on the right side of my neck, and still have a ‘lump’ that sticks out a little bit.”
– Amber Parker
According to police reports, Michael Duran “choked Amber and kicked her in the stomach” just months after she gave birth to their child and threw her out of a moving automobile, then attempted to “run her over.” Duran spent a total of ten months in prison for this and was released in October of 2009. After his release, Amber, apparently naive at the time, wanted to give their family a second chance. Her attempts failed and Duran allegedly continued to abuse her. Amber has since filed for divorce and obtained a restraining order against Duran, issued on December 16, 2011. Duran was recently indicted by a Grand Jury on Feb. 22, 2012 and is awaiting trial for assault IV, felony domestic violence charges. The trial is reportedly set for sometime in August as of this publication.
Amber has claimed many things according to documents from DHS. She has claimed that someone had broken into her house and attempted to poison her children, that they were coming in through the closet and attic. Another report stated that Boatright was drilling holes in her roof to “spy on her.”
They were very strange accusations, but when you look into the issues surrounding them and the domestic abuse that Amber suffered, it’s surprising that she has been able to maintain her composure throughout this process. DHS documents claim that Amber was either using drugs or was a paranoid schizophrenic. She was battered, DHS!
On or around November 4, 2011, David Boatright was given custody of Amber’s oldest son. On or around November 14, 2011, Amber’s two youngest children were officially placed in foster care. At that time, she reportedly volunteered to do whatever she could to get her children back. Amber was referred by DHS to a Psychologist that they often use. Amber underwent a comprehensive psychological exam given by James A. Ewell, Ph.D. in Eugene Oregon. Ewell’s report stated, “In addition to information gathered through the procedures mentioned above, I also received background data from Ms. Williams’ letter of referral. Accompanying that letter Ms. Williams forwarded additional documents describing Ms. Duran’s history, behaviors and contact with agency workers. These materials were briefly reviewed PRIOR to my meeting with her.”Strangely enough, Ewell’s diagnosis apparently fell in line with what DHS had presumed… He stated that, “I do not believe Amber would currently be able to safely parent/protect her children, if they were returned to her care. She should be evaluated for the possible use of psychotropic medications. She probably also could benefit from supportive psychotherapy. She should continue to submit random urinalysis screenings…” While reading Ewell’s entire report, I found parts of it repetitive and similar to what I had read from DHS reports.
Shortly after her children were taken, Amber obtained the help of the US~Observer. Amber was very skeptical of Ewell’s report. She was strongly opposed to using psychotropic drugs, which Ewell suggested, and therefore unwilling to comply with a report she adamantly disagreed with.
Amber subsequently obtained an independent psychological exam from a well known psychologist out of Portland, Oregon.
This second exam was conducted by Frank Colistro Ed. D. (Ed. D. is a Doctor of Education Degree, equivalent to a professor or lecturer at the university level). Colistro found that Amber had similar findings resulting from similar tests given by Ewell, although Colistro’s report seemed less repetitive and much more thorough to this reporter. Colistro stated,“Overall, results of this assessment do not support Dr. Ewell’s diagnosis of Schizophrenia or any other form of mental illness, nor are there any indications of a substance abuse problem.”
Colistro also stated that Amber’s findings were, “supportive of the appellation of Battered Women’s Syndrome…”
Two different psychological exams produce two different conclusions
What would you do if you were beaten by the father of your child? What would you do if your life was threatened constantly? What if you were almost intentionally ran over by an automobile driven by your husband (Michael Duran)? What if you were choked, beaten, had your finger broken, and were constantly attacked and verbally assaulted? What if you were told that your house was going to be painted red with your own blood? What if you were kicked in the stomach? What if your ex’s had such extensive rap sheets as reported in this article? What would you do if the people you looked up to for help, reportedly disregarded your claims and ultimately used them against you, then stole your children? What if the people who were supposed to help you, failed to understand that you were the victim of extreme domestic violence? What if the help they offered required UA’s instead of treatment for domestic abuse? What if the help you were ridiculed for not accepting, required the use of psychotropic drugs?
One thing is clear to this writer: Amber has taken numerous parenting courses, she has removed herself from the presence of her exes. She has obtained restraining orders against her exes, she has filed for divorce from Michael Duran, and has been doing all she can to get her children back. She has reportedly undergone 20 clean UA’s (one was reportedly inconclusive due to a prescription she was taking at that time) and she has NO CRIMINAL HISTORY WHATSOEVER. Amber has a perfect record, minus a couple traffic citations. According to one psyche exam, “Amber has made substantial efforts to grow and learn in the area of parenting. Although not employed, she involves herself in productive, pro-social activities such as volunteering for the Humane Society and staying active in her church.”
What would you do if you were subjected to this kind of treatment? What if you were told your children were possibly going to be placed in foster care permanently?
At a recent full review hearing, this writer communicated with DHS employee David Purcell.
Mr. Purcell, Julia Blackburn’s (case worker assigned) supervisor, filled in for her at the hearing. Mr. Purcell expressed that he could not communicate with the press, but was willing to listen. Mr. Purcell was given this writers contact phone number and was asked to give it to his supervisor. Mr. Purcell was also informed of Amber’s willingness to cooperate with DHS, given they were willing to accept her position regarding the psychological exams. It was surprising to see Mr. Purcell not only do the right thing during the hearing, but his willingness to listen was a trait this writer respects. I can report that Mr. Purcell appeared to be an honest person, who’s intentions were truly genuine.
At the recent full review hearing, DHS’ Attorney stated, “we’ve received information that a reporter is present” and asked that the judge not allow it. Judge Daniel Murphy responded by quoting Oregon law and the first amendment, then asked if anyone “objected”, to which there was no reply. Concluding the hearing, Judge Murphy stated that if the children are not given back to one of the parents by August 9, 2012, that one of the attorneys needed to schedule another review hearing. Judge Murphy appeared to be concerned for the children, which was evident when he spoke to the many attorney’s present.
Editor’s Note: The US~Observer contacted Julia Blackburn who is/was the case worker at DHS assigned to this case. During the short conversation, Blackburn stated, “I don’t feel comfortable talking.” We were eventually put into contact with DHS supervisor Marco Benavides. Mr. Benavides reassured the US~Observer that Amber’s case would be reassessed. Nothing has been documented to prove anything has happened as of this publication. In fact, Amber is reportedly awaiting a hearing where the determination will be made regarding DHS’s decision to keep her children from her permanently.
Amber is a fit mother that needs counseling for Battered Women’s Syndrome. DHS has failed thus far at doing the right thing in this case. DHS has given out of office visitation to Duran for the two youngest children and temporary custody of the eldest child to Boatright.
Amber currently has to visit her children under strict supervision at DHS. DHS has even gone as far as telling Amber she cannot “talk to the children about future placement with her…” In other words, if one of her children said they wanted to come home, she must “redirect the conversation.” Amber was also recently notified that she was no longer permitted to take photos of her own children during her visits with them.
What is wrong with this picture people? David Boatright has custody of Amber’s oldest son and Michael Duran has visits with Amber’s two younger children, outside of DHS supervision, while he most likely awaits another prison term for his alleged criminal attacks on Amber. Amber’s visits with her own children are closely monitored and supervised, as she is constantly dissected and examined by DHS. This is NOT okay with this writer and this is NOT okay with the US~Observer. This is incompetence, it is negligence and this is absolute abuse of Amber. It will NOT continue…
If you have any information regarding DHS employees, Julia Blackburn, Kimberly Williams (former DHS) or Marco Benavides, please contact the US~Observer immediately via email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 541-474-7885. It’s time to put an end to abuse at the hands of DHS.