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Child abuse case heads to grand jury
Nov 24, 2004 12:00 am
A child abuse charge filed against a Lebanon woman after her toddler ate crack cocaine off the floor of their home has been bound over to the grand jury.
Tyhesia Shannon, 25, appeared briefly before General Sessions Judge Robert Hamilton on Tuesday in her first court appearance since being arrested earlier this month.
Shannon was charged after police were summoned to the emergency room of a local hospital by medical personnel who said they detected cocaine in the child's system.
According to an arrest warrant the suspect told investigators she watched as the child ingested the drug but failed to seek medical treatment for the 16-month-old until the following day.
The child, who is now in the care of the state Department of Children's Services, has reportedly fully recovered from the incident.
Little was said during Shannon's short courtroom appearance with General Sessions Judge Robert Hamilton advising her the case will likely go before the grand jury in March.
The judge left the defendant's $5,000 bond unchanged after court officers said she has been hit with a probation violation charge since her arrest in the child abuse case, requiring a jail sentence.
The case is one of two high-profile child abuse cases which has led some to criticize DCS over its response to complaints. Though the agency has publicly defended its actions, an internal investigation is underway into how workers responded to calls from police about the incident.
Authorities said DCS workers did not initially respond when told of the cocaine allegation and failed to reply when told of "roach-infested conditions" in the family's home.
Some also questioned why DCS allowed the child to remain in the custody of the mother after she reportedly failed a state-administered drug test several days after the allegations surfaced.
DCS spokesperson Andrea Turner, in defending the agency's work in the case, repeatedly emphasized DCS exhausts other remedies before removing children from their parents.
Custody of the child was originally granted to his grandparents – Shannon's mother – though the toddler and his two siblings were moved into foster care after questions arose about their ability to provide care for them, Turner said.
"We got information that led us to believe the ability of the grandparents to ensure the children's safety might be in question," Turner said.
DCS decisions also came under fire in another recent highly publicized child abuse case – that of a Lebanon couple charged with keeping their teenage son chained to a bed while his weight dwindled to a shocking 49 pounds. They are slated to undergo a preliminary hearing in December.
In that case police said DCS had been contacted earlier about the family but took no action.
Turner said records show the agency followed all its internal procedures in handling the case – including physically examining the 15-year-old – but found no evidence he was being mistreated.
The youth – who is now in foster care – was briefly hospitalized but is expected to make a full recovery from the weight loss, officials said.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at email@example.com.