CPS workers and Las Vegas Police separated mother and daughter for questioning and assigned a male officer to watch Gonzales while they searched the apartment. Gonzales voiced to the officer in charge of watching her that she feared that they were trying to take away her kids. He reassured her that that only happens when they see that the kids are not cared for, pointing out that she was well stocked with everything they needed and there was nothing dangerous or illegal there, so he didn’t think that would happen. The next thing you know, Iyanna is on her way to Child Haven and Gonzales has agreed to take drug and polygraph tests.
The above two episodes were omitted from the UNITY Case Notes, as was any reference as to WHY the CPS workers felt the need to remove the traumatized daughter from her mother’s comfort –– just when they needed each other most. One would think that the reason for removal of children from their parents would be an integral part of said case notes. As it was not documented, neither LVMPD Neglect and Abuse Sgt. K. Buist nor Det. H. Campbell can recall who the officer in charge of watching Gonzales was.
July 16: Gonzales spends the day at the hospital and is unsuccessful in reaching Violeta Menjivar, the CPS worker who removed her children.
Baby Elgin appears still groggy from the anesthesia, so she cannot determine for herself whether or not he is OK. Hospital staff was giving no medical information to Gonzales. Maternal grandmother and great grandmother arrived in Las Vegas and needed to wait for clearance to be added to visitor’s list. Jamal, father of Iyanna, after finally finding out where his daughter had been taken, arrives to retrieve her from Child Haven and take her home.
Early in the morning of July 17, Gonzales called Eugene, the baby’s father, to notify him of the accident. Grandmother went alone to the hospital. Upon arriving at the hospital, grandmother left word at the nurse’s station that she would like to speak with the hospital social worker, as she felt that a conversation would help to assuage any misgivings that the social worker may have had about the baby’s home life. She also noted that despite the coldness from hospital staff that the family had experienced prior, in contrast, many people now approached her regardless of police protocol, to reassure her about the baby’s recovery. When Gonzales arrived at the hospital on July 17 she found her son being wheeled around PICU in a wagon, while his demeanor and behavior were once again that of her baby Elgin!
The UMC Children’s Hospital Nevada social worker, Dr. Cynthia Hull, a heavy-gaited woman who does not take well to people presuming to be at her intellectual level, was not the voice of reason that the grandmother had hoped for; so mother and grandmother instead made an appointment with Dr. Hull’s supervisor, UMC Director of Social
Services, Vidya Ramanan. Ramanan would prove herself helpful time and time again in the months to come.
Shortly after they returned to Elgin’s room, Detective Monique Bulmer and two CPS workers, one of whom was CPS Senior Family Services Specialist Investigator Paula “PJ” Moore, entered the room saying that they were there to speak to Gonzales and told Gonzales’ mother to leave. While Gonzales’ mother was waiting she observed the CPS workers and detective huddled in the corner of the common area with Dr. Cynthia Hull and a very young girl also wearing a lab coat, whom they would later learn was Dr. Natalie Darro, a second-year resident who had taken it upon herself to embellish the symptom details of the fall in her intake assessment and would later add more fuel to the fire by contributing her own lethal comments (#2). Shortly afterward, the CPS workers took mother and grandmother into a small room, in the same hallway that Hull had been observed on her cell phone earlier, and
told them that they were being removed from the hospital because they did not know how to behave. The last thing they saw as they were escorted onto the elevator by the CPS workers, who were again joined
by Hull, was the gloating look on Dr. Hull’s hateful countenance. A formal complaint against Dr. Cynthia Hull has since been filed with the National Association of Social Workers and the Board of Examiners.
July 18, 2013: Gonzales appears in Family Court accompanied by her mother, her grandmother and Elgin’s father, Eugene. This was the first experience in Family Court for Gonzales, a social work student who had no prior dealings with CPS and had no history of violence. Baby Elgin’s father had chosen to be present at Family Court, instead of at
the hospital with his son, as an act of support for Gonzales. What was immediately noted was that the CPS worker who had taken it upon herself to remove the children, Child Development Specialist Violeta Menjivar, was not present. Menjivar had not returned any of the phone messages left for her by Gonzales.
CPS Investigator Paula Moore invited Gonzales and Eugene to sit in the two seats at the front of the courtroom. Hearing Moore explain the baby’s condition was the first time that the family had been privy to any medical information about their baby. It soon became apparent to this inexperienced family group that CPS was also charging the absent parent, Eugene, with child abuse. Moore stated that there were too many discrepancies involved in this case for the children to remain with their natural mother, that the rest of the family lived in
California and that it would be in the best interest of the baby to remain a ward of the State of Nevada. The family court Judge, Frank Sullivan, then assigned court appointed attorneys to Gonzales and Eugene.
At the time, the family was not aware that, in actuality, most of the discrepancies in the case were contained within the various medical evaluations, nor were they aware that the accusing doctor, Neurosurgeon Jason Garber, did not have a very good reputation among his patients or that he had previously prostituted himself off as a paid expert for a medical procedure that he had never conducted any research on. All this would be discovered much later.
After the Family Court hearing on July 18, CPS Investigator Paula Moore gave Gonzales and Eugene their respective paperwork to be drug tested. Moore also told Gonzales that she would reinstate her to visit her baby at the hospital, provided she behaves herself.
On the way to the testing facility, Gonzales called her court appointed attorney, Denise Gallagher, and placed the call on speaker, so that all could hear what the attorney had to say. Gallagher told her that she would instruct her as she does all of her clients, “NOT to take the drug or polygraph tests –– that even though CPS tells you that doing so will get you your baby back sooner, it won’t.” As Gallagher did not know Rhiannon Gonzales or her situation, she did
what she felt was the safest thing to do by instructing her not to take the tests. Eugene, however, did not contact his attorney and went straight away to take the drug test. He tested clean.
After the experiences in Family Court and the hospital, the family realized the severity of the situation. Aside from their main concern, being the condition of the baby, they had naively believed that for the sake of all children’s safety they simply needed to go through the process and that justice would prevail.
Next week: LVMPD Detective Monique Bulmer, accompanied by a male officer, Enrique Hernandez, arrived at the hospital.