State Capitol News
9:54 am
Wed December 18, 2013

DES Head Says Ingored Abuse Claims Were Reported

The head of the Department of Economic Security said Tuesday his agency has been telling the governor, lawmakers and everyone else for years that some complaints of child abuse to his overburdened agency were not being investigated. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

Department of Economic Security head Clarence Carter
Department of Economic Security head Clarence Carter
Credit Ross D. Franklin, AP

There was a public outcry when it was reported last month that more than 6,500 complaints over four years had been marked N-I, as in not for investigation. But, Clarence Carter told Arizona Public Radio his agency has been issuing semiannual reports for years, each time detailing how many complaints that came in were marked as “not responded to.”

“The report is written in a way that a reasonable person could raise the question of what does not responded mean? Because if this means that we didn’t do anything about this case, then how does that happen?” Carter asked.

But, gubernatorial press aide Andrew Wilder said at least some of the reports said cases were being handled through an alternative procedure, something he said may be intentionally misleading.

“It’s unreasonable to expect that the reader of this report would conclude that thousands of legitimate reports of child abuse and neglect were not being investigated,” Wilder said.

And, Carter acknowledged that the alternate investigations that were supposed to take place did not.