Parents convicted of murdering son avoided scrutiny, review pane - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Parents convicted of murdering son avoided scrutiny, review panel says

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

On Thursday, a member of a state review panel for child protective services said the horrific child abuse case resulting in the death of a 4-year-old boy prompted the group to look at steps taken by the Department of Social Services.

Robert Antonio Guinyard and Courtney Thompson were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after prosecutors said they brutally beat and killed their son with developmental disabilities last year.

"For anyone to get up here and argue that these two did not act with extreme indifference to human life is absurd," Fifth Judicial Circuit Assistant Solicitor Luck Campbell told the jury Wednesday.

"The system," Campbell told the jury, "failed Robert."

That system included a state Department of Social Services program called Community Based Prevention Services.

The program is designed to help families in low-risk situations to voluntarily get services without direct DSS involvement.

Instead, members of the South Carolina Citizen Review Panels for Child Protective Services said the DSS program allowed the boy's parents to avoid state scrutiny.

And they said it made the 4-year-old developmentally disabled boy a target for horrendous beatings, starvation, and other abuses that eventually took his life.

"I think there is a large failure within the system," said Diana Cannon, a member of the federally-mandated review group. "Obviously, it must have been in the assessment process because there was definitely a history with the family and with DSS. And those red flags were either missed or ignored."

The review panel reports annually about policies, procedures, and practices of the child protective services system and make recommendations annually to DSS.

The review panel said Community Based Prevention Services was rolled out too fast without considering that South Carolina already has an overburdened system that sometimes fails to follow its own policies and procedures.

The panel said the state needs to take action to fix this program sooner rather than later.

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