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MindNet Journal - Vol. 1, No. 93B * [Part 2 of 2 parts]
V E R I C O M M sm "Quid veritas est?"
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[Continued from part 1]
The 1992-93 Grand Jury Report:
From the San Diego Union Tribune, January 30, 1993, p. A-1:
Grand Jury Says Child Protection Off Course
Mary Curran-Downey, Staff Writer
A shift in the county's child-protection philosophy to emphasize
keeping families together, rather than forcing them apart when
abuse is alleged, has left social workers confused and some
children vulnerable, a new grand jury report says.
In the report released yesterday, the panel says that policy
changes by the Department of Social Services -- in part the
result of recommendations from the 1991-92 grand jury -- have
made social workers unsure of their jobs and unclear about the
The current grand jury "found that (county) Children's Services
Bureau workers and supervisors, as well as other professionals,
felt anxious and concerned that the new department philosophy of
'family preservation' was taking precedence over the primary need
to protect children."
Unlike the 1991-92 grand jury, the current panel did not provide
a detailed list of suggested changes. Instead, it recommends that
county social service officials work toward developing a balanced
system that treats each case individually.
Ivory Johnson, who heads the Children's Services Bureau, said she
has always tried to steer her department on a middle course.
"I haven't read the complete (grand jury) report in detail, but
to strike a balance has always been my personal goal, always
looking to protect the child and, when possible, to protect the
family bond," Johnson said yesterday.
"I think the issue is how you go about doing it. It's not always
easy to get it right from the community's point of view."
Thomas W. McNamara, foreman of the current grand jury, said
recent tragedies -- notably the deaths of 13-month-old Tiffani
Cook and 4-month-old Patricia Glasgow -- raised concerns over how
some social workers may be interpreting department procedures.
In both cases, social workers had contact with the family when
previous abuse was suspected, but the children remained in their
homes. Tiffani Cook was beaten to death in February, and Patricia
Glasgow, according to preliminary reports, starved to death
earlier this month.
In both cases, the children's parents have been arrested and
charged in connection with the deaths.
Neither family, however, was part of the county's Family
Preservation Program, which targets certain families for
intensive in-home services, such as budgeting, parenting classes
McNamara said the report was written to assure county social
workers that they should put the much-publicized problems of the
past behind them.
"People were afraid to act because they would be criticized if
they did and criticized if they didn't (remove a child from a
home where abuse was suspected)," McNamara said during a news
Many of those problems were outlined in the 1991-92 grand jury's
report, which touched off a firestorm of media attention and led
to many changes within the social services department.
One of the most significant changes was the September 1992
decision by the county Board of Supervisors to shift to a
family-centered philosophy, which offers an array of services to
keep the family intact rather than place the child in a foster
While praising the previous grand jury for helping to institute
some changes that were "clearly beneficial," the current grand
jury says the 1991-92 panel's investigation caused county workers
"unneeded difficulty in performing their jobs" and damaged
"The principal effect of these reports, ultimately, was to create
an environment in which many front-line social workers had the
perception that they must carry out a 'family reunification at
all costs' policy, with the result that a child's welfare could
be subordinated to that perceived policy," the new report says.
The report also expresses concern that cases cited by the 1991-92
grand jury did not paint an accurate picture of the facts and did
not represent the majority of cases handled by the social
services department. The previous grand jury reports focused on
sexual-abuse cases, according to the present panel, even though
sexual-abuse cases make up only 22 percent of all cases handled
by the department.
Carol L. Hopkins, a member of the 1991-92 grand jury, said she
was saddened by the report released yesterday. She said the
social services department should have been given an opportunity
to fully institute some of the recent changes without coming
under any more criticism.
She said the department has been "in chaos" in the past and has
only recently had strong leadership.
Hopkins also took the present grand jury to task for attempting
to subpoena former jury members to question them about files that
were missing from the grand jury office. Hopkins said the files
were in the safekeeping of the state Attorney General's Office.
"The grand jury looked at systems, it was not personal," said
Hopkins. "But the district attorney was so critical of us after
the release of (the 1991-92 report) that we were very concerned
about the level of defensiveness and rage.
"There was some concern also that the district attorney was
being sued over some of these cases, and so we felt it was not
appropriate for those files to be left in a place that the
district attorney or county counsel would have access to the
complaints," Hopkins said. "We told the (current) grand jury
where they were ... there was no attempt to hide anything from
the grand jury."
Although at least three files are still missing, but McNamara
said he will not ask the District Attorney's Office for an
The District Attorney's Office was criticized by the 1991-92
grand jury, but the new report supports District Attorney Ed
Miller's answer to the earlier report.
Miller called the new report a morale booster and said it helped
restore "some balance back in this subject matter which was
One point that both grand juries agree on is that the county's
budget problems and dwindling funds will make the job of
protecting children and families more difficult, no matter what
The county's shift in emphasis was due not only to the 1991-92
grand jury report but also to a critical report by the Juvenile
Justice Commission and a $175,000 study by the Child Welfare
League of America, which concluded that county child-protection
officials were referring too many cases to court.
In its report, the league, a child-advocacy group, concluded that
the county relied "much too heavily on legal proceedings as a way
of protecting children. It has become unnecessarily adversarial,
complicated, time-consuming and expensive."
The report pointed out that San Diego spent nearly $11 million in
1991-92 to pay for attorneys in Juvenile Court proceedings, a
threefold increase from 1987-88, even though the number of court
cases increased only 15 percent during that period. It compared
San Diego's costs to $1.2 million spent in Minneapolis, $2
million in Dallas and Phoenix, and $2.4 million in Philadelphia.
Michael Petit, the league representative, recommended that the
county shift millions of dollars from Juvenile Court and foster
care into a family preservation program.
Carol Hopkins, 1991-92 Grand Jurist, and her Own
From the San Diego Union-Tribune, December 4, 1994, p. E-1:
She RIGHTED WRONGS -- But Former Grand Juror Carol Hopkins,
Credited with Saving Families, Struggles with Her Own
Clark Brooks, Staff Writer
Jim Wade was about to lose his family when he found Carol
Hopkins. Wade stood accused of raping his 8-year-old daughter,
and the county was trying to find her a permanent new home.
Hopkins was investigating child abuse cases for the 1991-92 San
Diego County grand jury. On Oct. 1, 1991, Wade wrote her a letter
asking for help.
At the time, Wade's daughter was in a foster home. The county
Department of Social Services, through its child protection
branch, was taking steps to keep her there. Citing evidence that
eventually cleared Wade, Hopkins convinced the agencies to back
"Carol Hopkins saved my family," Wade said. "She has a huge
heart. She gave -- and still gives -- so much of her time to lost
But the lines separating her public and private lives began to
blur. While seeking justice for others, Hopkins became
romantically involved with her adviser on the grand jury, and her
own marriage started to unravel.
Hopkins, 50, headed the much-publicized grand jury health and
social services committee that produced a series of blistering
reports charging that many of the district attorney's child-abuse
cases were marred by false accusations and faulty investigations.
The jurors reported a pattern of leading questions that appeared
to uncover abuse where none existed.
The reports drew attention in the national media. Grand jury
coordinator Joanne Lord was besieged by requests for copies from
doctors, reporters, lawyers, psychologists and children's rights
organizations all over the country. The cost of the copies
exceeded her budget, and she finally had to stop printing them.
One of the reports looked exclusively at the case of Jim Wade,
then a Navy chief petty officer. Investigators "brainwashed"
Wade's daughter, the report said, until she finally -- and
falsely -- said her father had raped her.
County Child Protective Services, seeking the power to put Wade's
daughter up for adoption before he was formally charged,
scheduled a parental rights hearing. Hopkins went to Lana
Willingham, assistant director of the Department of Social
Services, with the results of DNA testing that eventually proved
"We really appreciate Carol bringing that to our attention,"
Willingham said. "As a result of her providing that startling new
information, we were able to get a hearing with a different
focus. That began the process of getting his child back to him."
Wade has since been awarded more than $3.5 million from various
government agencies and individuals. He lives now with his wife,
Denise, and their daughter and son raising beef cattle in
Hopkins was frequently interviewed by newspaper and television
reporters about Wade and other cases. Seeking to counter the
negative publicity, District Attorney Edwin L. Miller issued a
report disputing the grand jury findings. It was published Oct.
By then, Hopkins was a private citizen again, looking into the
plight of Dale Akiki, the Sunday school aide charged with 52
counts of child abuse and general mayhem at the Faith Chapel in
"How many times in your life do you get the chance to stand up
against something that's wrong? You have to fight against that
kind of injustice, even if you're not on the grand jury anymore,"
Hopkins was a fixture in court when Akiki went on trial in April
1993. She was joined almost every day by another Akiki supporter,
Rose Marie Royster, who admired Hopkins for her work on the grand
"Carol was kind of a hero to me," Royster said. "She is a very
dear person with a big heart. And she's one of the most
intelligent people I know."
'We shall overcome'
Carol Hopkins was a Navy brat who grew up in Coronado and came of
age during the '60s. She moved into a commune in San Francisco's
Haight-Ashbury district in 1968, along with her two daughters --
ages 1 and 3 -- by two naval officer ex-husbands.
While attending UC Berkeley, Hopkins began protesting the Vietnam
War and marching for civil rights.
"The first song my kids learned to sing," she said, "was 'We
But as a young rebel, Hopkins set limits. She never used drugs,
she said, and she didn't confront the police. When the cops
started spraying tear gas at student protesters, Hopkins came
home to San Diego.
She worked as a teacher and married three more times during the
'70s. She and husband Sam Winner (1978-85) adopted a son, also
named Sam. He is 15 now and lives with Hopkins.
"I wish I would have been able to marry someone and stay married
for 30 years," she said, "but it just didn't work out that way."
She married David Hopkins, her sixth husband, in 1987. Both were
triathletes. They exchanged vows on Valentine's Day then set out
with some 200 guests for a 10K run. To be with his new bride,
David Hopkins left a law practice in the East and started anew in
"Up until recently," he said, "it was a very romantic story."
A grand jury is a group citizens nominated by judges to monitor
local government agencies. Hopkins wasn't sure she wanted to
serve on one, but once selected, she threw herself into the job.
Since she was not employed, she could -- and often did -- devote
12 or more hours a day to her grand jury work.
"The thing that has always concerned me most is justice," she
When she started examining child abuse cases, Hopkins assumed she
would side with county prosecutors. "But right away," she said,
"we knew something was really wrong."
Many parents accused of abusing their children were considered
"in denial" and therefore guilty if they claimed to be innocent.
And when children said their parents didn't abuse them, it was
often considered a symptom of "child abuse accommodation
syndrome" and one reason they should be kept away from their
Miller was not a fan of Hopkins or the work she was doing. In one
meeting, she said, "He yelled at me, 'Who the hell do you think
you are, lady, criticizing my child abuse unit?'"
Contacted recently, Miller declined to discuss Hopkins. However,
Richard Macfie, Hopkins' grand jury foreman, attended that
meeting and others. Such outbursts from the district attorney
were not uncommon, Macfie said.
"I think we left the meetings with the pretty clear appearance
that Ed Miller was not at all pleased with we who represented the
grand jury," Macfie said, "particularly Carol Hopkins. He saw her
as a thorn in his side, and he has since."
When the grand jury decided to investigate the Wade case and
others, jurors dismissed their adviser, a deputy district
attorney, to avoid a conflict of interest. Their new adviser was
Gary Schons, chief deputy in the San Diego office of the state
Schons and Hopkins worked closely together. They saw each other
frequently as friends, Hopkins said, until their grand jury work
was completed. Then they started a romance.
While Hopkins monitored the Akiki trial, the district attorney
Investigators cruised by her house in North Park and copied
license numbers. They interviewed her housekeeper's husband,
Carlos Morales, asking pointed questions about Gary Schons.
"We received information that there was inappropriate contact
with persons associated with the Akiki case," said A. Craig
Rooten, a deputy district attorney. Schons was not involved in
the Akiki case.
Rooten would not say if the license plate searches turned up any
suspicious visitors. He said Morales was questioned "because of
the allegations I previously mentioned."
Akiki was cleared of all charges in November 1993, and whisked
home in a limousine rented by 25 sheriff's deputies. With the
primary election approaching, Hopkins and Rose Marie Royster
turned their attention to the district attorney's race.
They both liked candidate Paul Pfingst, a civil attorney who once
was a prosecutor under Miller. Hopkins had spoken with him at the
courthouse and assumed he was a Democrat. Royster, a staunch
Republican, said she and her friends would not cross party lines
even in a nonpartisan race.
"Then Paul came to us one day and said, 'Well, I've got some good
news and some bad news,'" Royster said. He looked first at
Royster: "The good news is, I'm a Republican." Then he turned to
Hopkins: "The bad news is I'm a Republican."
"We both threw our support behind Paul," Royster said, "and
backed him all the way."
Their first victory came in the June primary when Pfingst
qualified for a November showdown with Judge Larry Stirling, and
Ed Miller lost his job effective Jan. 3, 1995.
"Ed Miller had to go, and I know I played some part in that,"
Hopkins said. "But for me, this never was a personal issue. I
feel sorry for Ed Miller, terribly sorry. He did a lot of good
for this county for a long time. But he couldn't admit failure,
and he didn't like criticism."
'No hidden agenda'
David and Carol Hopkins separated in February and are divorcing.
"In my life with David," Carol Hopkins said, "I think, 'How could
I let this happen?' I do have tremendous regrets."
She is planning to cut back on her volunteer work and get a job.
She would run for political office, say a seat on the board of
supervisors, if she thought she had any chance of getting
"I won't lie about my beliefs," she said. "I don't understand how
a civilized society can have a death penalty. I would open up the
borders. Obviously, I could not get elected. But given the tenor
of the times, being unelectable is an honor."
Hopkins is still seeing Gary Schons but isn't ready to make a
commitment to him, she said.
"Gary is a very nice man, and we've been through a lot together,"
she said. "I do love him, but I can't imagine right now marrying
Schons declined to be interviewed.
The breakup has been very painful for David Hopkins. He did not
wish to discuss the divorce but said he is proud of what his wife
accomplished while on the grand jury.
"She surprised everyone because she got so much accomplished in
so little time," he said. "Because of that, they thought she had
a hidden agenda. She did not. She is extraordinarily intelligent
and energetic, and I don't think anybody in county government
ever came across anybody quite like her ..."
His voice trailed off, and he paused to collect himself.
"The irony," David Hopkins said after a moment, "is that she
saved the Wade family and perhaps many others, but the cost of
that was the destruction of her own family."
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