Friday, February 11, 2011

Times editorial about Celeste Lowe ignores a key fact

The Times has an editorial this morning recapping Alison Bath’s series on the events in the Celeste Lowe murder case.
I blogged on those articles, which I thought were very well done, here.
The editorial this morning noted that:
  • Another call to Ouachita Parish authorities could have determined that the reason Lowe had custody — suspected abuse allegations against his former wife and Celeste's mother — had been determined to be unfounded.
The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s investigators did determine that at that time, the charges were unfounded for lack of evidence.
What The Times is ignoring in the editorial this morning can be summed up in a sentence from Ms. Bath’s article:
  • Finally, Social Services completed their investigation in December and validated the reported abuse.
The editorial this morning is ignoring that key fact.
The courts have to act with the information that they are given by both sides in a dispute, and by facts they ascertain from official sources.
The court had a copy of the Ouachita Sheriff’s investigation. They also knew that Social Services had determined – rightly or wrongly – that the charges of abuse at the hands of the mother were validated.
The editorial goes on to say:
  • Bossier Parish judges must consider whether they too readily extended protective orders related to the custody fight. Protective orders were extended four times, including once after the investigation related to the alarm raised at Celeste's school.
First, the protective orders were not related to the custody fight, which was already settled in Ouachita Parish court, but were related to allegations of abuse. Social Services determined that the allegations were true.
I see no fault in the decisions made by the hearing officer and the judges of the 26th JDC. They had to act on the facts they had at the time, and those facts told them that it had been determined that the child suffered abuse while in the custody of the mother.
The end result was a terrible tragedy, but let the blame lie where it lies – with the father and step-mother who perpetrated the act.
The court system did the best it could do with the information it had.

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