Lisa Monahan, News 9
EDMOND, Oklahoma -- One week after a Logan County jury spared an Edmond woman from jail time in the death of her foster child, some are questioning the Department of Human Services over the foster mother's record with her own children.
"We believe the evidence that came out in the criminal trial is certainly going to prove our case,"said Don Strong, Kala Whitecrow's attorney.
Don Strong represents Kala Whitecrow, the mother of two-year-old Naomi Whitecrow, who died in Holder's care. Kala Whitecrow is suing Amy and Mike Holder, as well as the DHS for wrongful death and negligence.
Whitecrow's attorney feels confident in their case.
"All of that occurred on Amy Holder's watch and there has to be a reason for it," Strong said.
In the criminal case against Amy Holder, court documents show the state asked to submit evidence of Holder's parenting practices. The court overruled the state's request. The document also shows one of Holder's children was prepared to testify.
The child told investigators Holder treated her differently than other siblings in the home. The child said Holder withheld food, and sometimes inappropriately disciplined her with a flyswatter.
DHS received similar complaints. DHS spokesperson Sheree Powell says the agency cannot speak specifically about the Holder case,
"As with any case we do the best we can to review the information that is available at that time. Hindsight is always 20/20. There is always a lot of information that comes out after the fact," Powell said.
According to DHS documents obtained by News9, the agency received at least three complaints in 2005, three years before Holder became a foster parent. The referrals show complaints of abuse or neglect against the same child.
The report shows "(the child) has been afraid of her own mother for some time."
DHS screened out the complaint because they did not meet its abuse criteria. Powell says state law requires DHS keep all referrals on file forever. Under that ruling, the files would have been available at the time Holder applied to become a foster parent.
Powell says anyone can call the hotline and make a referral so not every allegation is founded,
"They would look at if there were previous referrals to the department, what were the circumstances regarding the referrals, and the details of what really happened," Powell said.
DHS says in all cases the child's safety is number one priority.
A home study and background check must be completed before approving anyone to become a foster parent.
"All allegations of abuse are unfounded. The family tried to get the child psychiatric treatment and eventually the Holders surrendered custody the child's maternal grandparents." Holder's attorney said.