Ray Snader at Citizen Tribune reports:
The judge (John Bell) who placed 16-year-old Jordan Kaleb Shelton in state custody told the late boy’s mother she should exercise her rights against the state to the fullest extent of the law.
Kaleb Shelton had been removed from his mother’s home earlier this year due to truancy. The teen was placed by private state-contracted agency Omni Visions, in the Morristown home of Ken Taylor.
According to the police, during a Nov. 24th altercation between Taylor and Shelton, Taylor grabbed the boy in a choke-hold. The teen lost consciousness and later died at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. An autopsy indicated the teen died of strangulation. Taylor now faces a charge of reckless homicide.
Although Taylor and his wife have fostered approximately 12 children at their Pinewood Circle home since they became foster parents in 2001 through Omni Visions, reports are now surfacing that DCS may have ignored complaints and concerns about the Taylor family. Internal records of complaints filed with DCS are not open to the public; however WATE News found records indicating that the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department investigated Taylor for a possible assault on a different foster child in 2006.
Nevertheless – during the hearing on Thursday to dismiss the pending charges which accused the teen of being a runaway from a Blount County foster home, Bell told Shelton’s mother:
“My recommendation is that you get an attorney and file your appropriate action,” he said. “What I’m saying is to the fullest extent of the law, you need to exercise your rights in filing action against them.”
Shelton was concerned that she would not get back her other children who also are in foster care, if she filed legal action in connection with her son’s death.
“Is that going to hurt me?” she asked the court.
“Ma’am, that will have nothing to do with this,” responded Bell.
After having her child removed from the home and ultimately, dying while in the custody of the state – this mother fears retribution for holding DCS accountable. How unbearably messed-up is that?