HOUSTON (FOX 26) – “This is by far the largest sanction I’ve ever been a part of or ever heard of being imposed against CPS,” said attorney Dennis Slate.
Family Law Judge Mike Schneider says he would have made Child Protective Services pay even more but didn’t want to burden taxpayers.
The judge found CPS case worker Levar Jones and his supervisor Niesha Edwards lied in order to take Michael and Melissa Bright’s 2-year-old daughter and 5-month-old son away from them.
“I think people would be really concerned if they actually sat here and listened to all of these days worth of CPS covering up the lies they told,” Slate said.
The Brights’ 2-year-old daughter ended up being abused in foster care.
“We’ve got a little girl with a black eye and basically an acidic burn in her diaper area,” Proffitt said. “She didn’t even make it to foster care until 10 or 11 o’clock at night and by the next morning all of these things had already happened to her.”
Judge Schneider ordered CPS to pay the Brights $127,000 for legal fees and other expenses for a case he said should have never been brought against them.
“I’m glad it’s over. We can just go on and be a family,” said Melissa Bright.
“We can go home free and clear without any allegations with our children,” Michael Bright said.
Judge Schneider also gave CPS until December 5 to come up with a plan to retrain almost every CPS worker in the Houston region.
“The law on removal, the process on removal, and making sure parents are told about the removal of their children,” said Slate.
“It’s an unfortunate epidemic and until someone like Judge Schneider makes CPS accountable it’s going to continue,” Proffitt said.
In a statement CPS says,” In light of today’s ruling we are reviewing our options including our right to appeal.”
But if CPS appeals and loses, the judge said the agency will have to pay all legal expenses.