The growing scandal involving allegations of misconduct on the part of St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services and Child Protective Services employees needs to be addressed fully by elected county officials, including the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office. And if DA Gary Pasqua finds himself with a conflict in such an investigation, then a special prosecutor should be found.
The Department of Social Services in St. Lawrence County plays a huge role in investigating allegations of abuse. And that information often serves as the basis for criminal charges and, of course, charges in St. Lawrence County Family Court. It stands to reason that if people have gone to trial in recent years in the county based on allegations of abuse put forth by the Department of Social Services, all of that information is suspect given the growing number of complaints being lodged against DSS and CPS employees in St. Lawrence County.
If the allegations are true, it also means that county employees have knowingly perjured themselves and made false statements. Those are crimes.
There are only so many DSS and CPS investigators, and especially senior investigators, within St. Lawrence County. So it should not be difficult to determine those responsible.
Keep in mind that many of the complaints against county DSS employees include manipulating evidence and using heavy-handed tactics to force people to say what the department wants them to say. Such actions are outrageous and could very well be responsible for innocent people going to jail, families losing their children and children themselves forever damaged because they were caught in the political crosshairs of the department’s unjust actions.
St. Lawrence County’s legislators have been mostly mum on these allegations. Yet they are responsible for oversight of all county departments. Where is the outrage on their behalf?
As the mayor of the county’s only city, the actions of the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services directly affect my constituents. So I am outraged, and I want answers.
This is a top-down problem in St. Lawrence County. It is time that county legislators and the district attorney publicly weigh in. If these allegations against the county DSS are true, criminal charges should be filed against all of those involved.
Jeffrey M. Skelly
The writer is mayor of Ogdensburg.