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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Coffeyville couple sues SRS worker after granddaughter Brooklyn Coons is beaten to death


Left: Brooklyn's murderer, Melissa Wells, received a guilty verdict and is awaiting sentencing
BY TIM POTTER
The Wichita Eagle
January 24, 2010
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A family's lawsuit accuses a state social worker of gross negligence, saying she failed to protect a 23-month-old Coffeyville girl beaten to death by her father's meth-addicted girlfriend.
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The lawsuit, filed in federal court Tuesday, accuses SRS social worker Linda Gillen of not taking steps to remove Brooklyn Coons and her brother from a dangerous household after the maternal grandparents repeatedly raised concerns about injuries to Brooklyn...
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The lawsuit — brought by Brooklyn's maternal grandparents, Larry and Mary Crosetto — contends Gillen "failed to act to protect their grandchildren because of a pre-existing grudge..."
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Gillen could not be reached for comment. (I'll bet not. read the rest of the story and the time line below. Gillen should be charged with criminal negligence. I wouldn't want her looking out for my family.)
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Right: Brooklyn, Angela and Christian Coons
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The litigation is filed in federal court because of the argument that Brooklyn and her survivors were denied their constitutional rights by the state, said Randy Rathbun, a Wichita lawyer and former U.S. attorney for Kansas who is representing the Crosettos in their lawsuit.
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The Kansas Attorney Generals Office prosecuted the girlfriend in Brooklyn's death, which occurred on Jan. 20, 2008. The girlfriend later married Brooklyn's father. On Dec. 30, 2009, a judge sentenced Melissa Wells Coons to life in prison for the murder of Brooklyn.
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The same day the judge sentenced Melissa Coons, Brooklyn's father, Randy Coons, was charged with aggravated child endangerment, said Ashley Anstaett, spokeswoman for the Attorney Generals Office.
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The lawsuit against Gillen seeks more than $75,000 in damages.
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The first loss
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The Crosettos had dealt with a tragic loss less than six months before their granddaughter's murder. On Aug. 9, 2007, Brooklyn's mother, Angela Coons, died of a sudden illness at a Wichita hospital. She was 24...and was separated from Randy Coons...
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Angela was busy completing her degree at Pittsburg State University, the Crosettos had "practically raised" their grandchildren, Larry Crosetto said.
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The weekend after they buried their daughter, their son-in-law, Randy Coons, showed up on their front porch with two Coffeyville police officers and demanded to take the children, Crosetto said. The son-in-law moved the children in with him and his girlfriend, Melissa Wells.
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"Within a week of the kids being put into that home, Brooklyn showed up on a weekend with her lip stitched together," Crosetto said.
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The lawsuit provides this timeline:
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In the fall of 2007, the Crosettos started seeing bruises on Brooklyn, and their granddaughter
received medical treatment twice for suspicious injuries.
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On Nov. 5, 2007, school officials told Gillen, the SRS social worker, that Christian had bruising that looked suspicious, the lawsuit says.
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Nov. 6, 2007, Larry Crosetto tried to reach Gillen about the bruising, but got no return call, so he tried to contact her again on Nov. 14, 15 and 16, eventually reaching her on Nov. 20. Gillen said she had interviewed a school official, the children's father, his girlfriend and Christian...
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The situation got worse.
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On Dec. 10, 2007, the lawsuit says, Crosetto called Gillen again because the "bruising and marks were beginning to escalate...
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On Dec. 12, 2007, Crosetto sought help from school officials. "Their position was that SRS had taken control of the situation and it was out of their hands," the lawsuit says.
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On Sunday Dec. 23, the Crosettos' doctor noticed bruises on Brooklyn's face while she was at church, and he thought SRS should be notified. The doctor recommended that Larry Crosetto have another doctor examine Brooklyn the next day. On Dec. 24, the second doctor saw the girl, called police and sent a letter to the Coffeyville SRS office asking that "they investigate the situation and get back to him."
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Gillen did not respond to the letter, the lawsuit says. But that same day the doctor called police, a Coffeyville police officer took a report from Crosetto in the doctor's office and said he would contact the prosecutor's office when it opened after the holiday, Crosetto said.
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"I was under the understanding that the Police Department was trying... to intervene, that the roadblock was SRS," Crosetto said.
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The grandparents met with Gillen at her office on Dec. 28, [begging her to act to protect their grandchildren, with no resulting actions on Gillen's part.]
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And then the worst happened. On Jan. 17, 2008 — 20 days after the Crosettos expressed their fears to GillenCoffeyville police responded to a 911 call about Brooklyn. She was unresponsive, and she was in the care of Wells. Police saw head trauma and bruises.
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Doctors found that Brooklyn's brain was bleeding as a result of her being struck on the head, and she had brain damage from being shaken, the lawsuit says.
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The day after the 911 call, it says, police put three other children from the home of Wells and Randy Coons into protective custody because of "deplorable" living conditions and because of the fatal injuries to Brooklyn.
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The lawsuit says that the Police Department didn't take more steps to protect Brooklyn and the other children before Jan. 18, 2008
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The lawsuit argues that Gillen's "conduct increased the danger to (Brooklyn) from the meth addicted girlfriend."
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Read more: kansas.com
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Good for them. They can raise Christian in peace now. I'd like to see Linda Gillen in jail.
For background story:

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gillen should be gone...no more of our tax money to fund her salary!!! SRS needs to have a house cleaning from top to bottom. Everyone knows the agency does not function well. Why doesn't the Governor dismantle it and start over?

Anonymous said...

I am Brooklyns dads cousin. I am at a loss for words. I am so glad they sentenced that evil person to life in prison but that is to good for her, she should be tortured like brooklyn was.It just makes me sick to think of what those babies went through before god stepped in and took her home with him.Thank god for stopping the beatings that the s.r.s should have stopped. we love you Brooklyn god bless you

Janet said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. There is no excuse for people like Linda Gillen. I once tried to work with a person who undermined me at every chance and abused her powers for personal vendatas, real or imagined. To think that a child died because of a woman who refused to do her job--just makes me sick to think she is still working for the state.