To the editor:
I’ve been following a local tort claim on OSCN website, Payne County case #CJ-2021-19, involving DHS and City of Stillwater, including PD.
The petitioner is a caring friend, remarkable father, highly regarded citizen, volunteer, local business owner and former civil servant. The lawsuit stems from his attempts to modify joint custody agreement after complications in seeking DHS assistance following multiple allegations of both sexual and physical abuse perpetrated by the biological mother. In attempts to protect his son, the father hit roadblocks with both OKDHS and Stillwater PD, hence this Tort claim.
In ruling by Judge Kistler last Friday, DHS and the City’s motions to dismiss were denoted as very similar and both denied. This father will be allowed his day in court. The defense used a single, oversimplified precedent stating -“Therefore, no one member of the public has a right to compel a public official to act”-which basically implies to me that neither the police, nor DHS in this case, felt they had any legal obligation to protect or serve.
Broken down the precedent asserts that private citizens don’t have a constitutional right of protection or to charge an official to investigate or prosecute a crime. So any official tasked with duty to act, is not required by law nor owes that responsibility to any one member of the public. If taken literally, no one would be able to request legal action nor would any officials be liable for inaction.
This is especially troublesome when it involves children. I’m hoping this editorial may shed some light on a systemic problem and take steps to begin correcting it. As a Stillwater native, I feel all parents and residents should be made aware of how poorly this case has been handled, as it could easily be a child you love. The Tort claim will take time but one thing that time does not allow for is the safety of citizens, especially children. In their defense to dismiss, the city’s attorney asserted that “city didn’t cause harm, the (alleged) abuser did.” This feels like a failure on part of our police department, paid for with taxpayers dollars. To be noted and can also be found on OSCN, is that shortly after this lawsuit was filed, the mother/accused abuser, was granted full custody through an amendment to their custody agreement following a brief hearing.
As a human with natural protective instincts this only amplifies concerns for this particular child’s well-being and seems like a total system failure: not only did it possibly fail to protect a child from harm but it ultimately resulted in giving the accused abuser full access to said child. We need reform and it could start with this case, as children are left in harm’s way too often. I sincerely hope that the details of this case will be covered as the lawsuit progresses. I will continue to pray for not only the safety of this child but for yours as well.