Again, sorry I’ve sort of neglected the blog this past week. Julie Ann Grimm and I have been working on a series of stories, info boxes, Q&As and other info for a Sunday package looking into some different aspects of the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department and the several missed opportunities for intervention that could have stopped the tragic death of Leland Valdez.
It includes info from our sit down interview with Gov. Susana Martinez, details of past substantiated abuse cases against a CYFD worker who handled a past Leland abuse investigation, details of how the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office dropped the ball and never forwarded their past abuse report to the DAs office for possible criminal charges six months before Leland was killed and some historical benchmarks about child care in the state over the past 20 years. There is a lot of info, and probably a ton left untold on the issues facing the state in regards to this topic.
We also book-end the past two decades with two eerily similar tragedies:
- The 1991 beating death in Santa Fe of 15-month-old Chelsea Giron by her mother’s live-in boyfriend who initially told doctors she fell and later pleaded guilty to abuse resulting in death before a lengthy prison sentence. That case had past abuse allegations that were never acted on and led to the demotion of two employees of the state’s Human Services Department and the secretary of that department acknowledging they dropped the ball in the case. The state’s Children, Youth and Families Department was created in 1992.
- The 2011 beating death in Pojoaque of 3-year-old Leland Valdez in which his mother (Tabetha Van Holtz) and her live-in boyfriend (Steven Gallegos) are now charged with abuse resulting in death and face potential 18-year prison sentences. There were past abuse allegations that CYFD and the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department looked into, but to no avail. Two CYFD workers are on paid administrative leave now and a sheriff’s detective may face disciplinary action.
I should start getting back to much more regular, daily updates of this blog again now.