Sun January 26, 2014
State Continues Review of Union County Child Abuse Cases
State health officials are continuing to review whether Union County mishandled any child abuse cases when Wanda Larson worked for the county. Larson was a supervisor for child protective services when authorities charged her in November with child abuse.
Authorities arrested Larson and her boyfriend in November after they found an 11-year-old boy handcuffed to their front porch with a dead chicken around his neck. Larson was the boy's legal guardian.
She was also one of the people in charge of supervising Union County social workers who investigate child abuse.
"There was some concern that was expressed about well, this person did this in her personal life, what was she doing with all the cases that are coming in?" said Richard Matens, executive director of Union County Human Services.
Matens said those concerns are why Union County invited the state to review how it handles child services.
The state is looking into a sampling of about 50 cases from the past three years. Some involve Larson, who's been fired, and some don't.
So far, the state has asked Union County to reopen one of those cases. Matens said it involves an accusation against someone who's connected to Union County.
"That person was not Larson, but there was somebody else that is too close to us so we can't investigate it," he said.
Basically, there may have been a conflict of interest, although it doesn't appear to involve Larson.
Matens said there are two or three other cases that may also be reopened because the state found inconsistent documentation. He wouldn't say whether those involve Larson.
Bottom line, he said the county can't say for sure whether there were any child abuse cases mishandled under Larson's supervision. He said a written report from the state within the next few weeks could provide more detail on that.