Concerns remain over Kansas foster children staying in offices
The 13-year-old girl who reported she was sexually assaulted inside a child welfare office in May told authorities she was sleeping when an older teen approached her.
A criminal affidavit describing charges filed earlier this month against Michael Anthony Hamer, who turned 19 on Wednesday, gives more details about the reported rape inside a KVC Behavior Healthcare office in Olathe.
“(The 13-year-old) advised that she was sleeping in a small corner of the conference room when Hamer (lay) down with her under a blanket,” said the affidavit, which was released Wednesday. “Hamer began kissing her and touching her all over. Hamer then put his hands down (the victim’s) pants.”
Hamer, who was 18 and still a foster child when the incident occurred, has been charged with rape and aggravated indecent liberties of a child under 14. The Star reported earlier this month that the incident happened May 5 at the KVC office.
When officers arrived that night, a male social worker for KVC told them that he caught the two teens “making out.” But after the worker spoke with the 13-year-old, she told the worker that she had been sexually assaulted. She also told officers and a forensic interviewer that she had been assaulted.
The girl said she “froze” when Hamer began touching her, the affidavit said. The document also described how Hamer “eventually admitted to kissing” the 13-year-old, putting his hand down her pants and touching her.
News of the sexual assault comes after Kansas lawmakers and child advocates have insisted for months that it isn’t safe to keep children overnight in offices run by the state’s two private child welfare contractors. They had learned last fall that contractors had resorted to this practice because of a shortage of foster homes and residential beds.
The youths were at the office that May 5 evening awaiting placement in available foster homes or facilities, according to Taylor Forrest, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, which oversees KVC’s foster care contract with the state. The staff member was supervising the two teens and another youth.
A KVC spokeswoman told The Star that the social worker, who had been at KVC for 2 1/2 years, had gone to get supplies and had only left the two unsupervised for “five minutes or less.”
DCF initiated a licensing investigation of KVC in May to review the incident and ended up citing the private contractor for a violation. The social worker is no longer with KVC.
When Gina Meier-Hummel took over the troubled DCF on Dec. 1, she assured lawmakers and the public that she and her administration would work with the state’s two private contractors to correct ongoing problems. Lawmakers and child advocates say that while the new administration has made some things better in specific areas, there is still work to be done to keep kids safe.