• DFCS employees disciplined in controversial adoption case

    By: Richard Belcher


    ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned that five Fulton County Department of Family and Children Services workers were either disciplined or recommended to be barred from future state employment because of their role in a controversial adoption case.

    Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher found records also show an official with a private agency involved in the case refused to answer questions.

    DFCS approved the adoption of three young children even though the adopting family initially withheld information about the aggravated sexual molestation of one family member by another. It's a crime that lead to a 25-year prison sentence.

    Otis Jemison Jr., 18, was in jail awaiting trial for sexually assaulting a young relative in the family home when the private agency Families First did a home study to see if DFCS should recommend that the Jemison family be allowed to adopt three young children.

    Belcher tracked down the adoptive mother Sabrina Jemison.

    "I wanted to ask you some questions about the Otis Jemison case." Belcher asked Jemison.

    "I don't know," Jemison answered.

    Belcher asked why she didn't say anything to authorities about the abuse that happened in the family home before the adoption and Jemison shut the door.

    The Jemisons initially withheld any mention of the assault, which took place at the family home in Douglas County, but why didn't Families  First uncover the assault?

    "Is that the kind of thing that a home study should pick up?" Belcher asked Randall Kessler, family law attorney, who is not involved with the case.

    "You would hope," Kessler said. "A rape in the home where a child's moving into, a rape of a child by a sibling (should be picked up). You would hope and pray that that's what DFCS does and picks up."

    According to a heavily-edited state investigation, Families First was working for DFCS when it missed the assault in the Jemison home.

    The report said Families First adoption manager Jane Hudson failed to return repeated phone calls from a state investigator.

    And there are recommended disciplinary actions, going as far as termination, against three DFCS workers and a do not rehire order for two former workers.

    But Kessler is sympathetic to DFCS.

    "Every time I've encountered DFCS in my practice, they seem overwhelmed. They seem understaffed," Kessler said.

    The list of people refusing to answer Belcher's questions includes DFCS, Families First and the state Department of Human Services, which conducted the internal investigation of the adoptions.

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