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2 child services workers fired, charged in fatal abuse case

April 13, 2021 GMT

FAIRMONT, W.Va. (AP) — Two Child Protective Service workers in northern West Virginia have been fired and charged with misdemeanors involving the abuse of a 4-year-old boy who later died, authorities said.

Police in Fairmont charged Breeana Bizub, 25, and Tabetha Phillips-Friend, 44, with involuntary manslaughter, failing to report suspected abuse and neglect, and violating child abuse reporting procedures, news outlets reported. A police detective said the charges are related to a case involving the boy’s mother and boyfriend.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources said in a statement that it was “devastated” by the boy’s death and that the CPS workers are no longer employed there. The agency declined to provide further details, citing the ongoing investigation.

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It wasn’t immediately known whether Bizub and Phillips-Friend had attorneys who could comment on the charges. The were arraigned last week in Marion County Magistrate Court and released on their personal recognizance.

The boy was found unresponsive at his home March 4 and was declared dead a few days later. Police said in an earlier criminal complaint that the child had head trauma, lacerations to his lips, broken teeth and bruises.

The boy’s mother, Ashlee Starlene Renee Allen, 27, of Fairmont, was charged March 27 with one count of child abuse causing death. Her boyfriend, Walter Everett Richardson III, 33, was charged earlier in March with first-degree murder and death of a child by abuse.

Richardson was alone with the boy both on March 4 and on Jan. 25, when the child was admitted to a Morgantown hospital for multiple head injuries, the earlier complaint said. The boy told a CPS worker that he was scared of Richardson and did not feel safe with him, it said.

After the first incident, Allen agreed to a temporary plan that Richardson would stay away from the child for a week or until Marion County Child Protective Services could conduct another assessment, the complaint said.

But Allen was back home with Richardson within two days and Allen failed to follow up on the temporary CPS assessment before the boy’s death, police said. Allen “knowingly allowed Walter Richardson to act as custodian” to the boy on March 4 and was aware of previously reported child abuse involving Richardson, the complaint said.

A criminal complaint involving the CPS workers said Bizub and Phillips-Friend did not report the January incident to law enforcement.

Both Allen and Richardson remained jailed Tuesday on $500,000 bond each.