ANDERSON — A Madison County grand jury has filed four criminal charges against a caseworker with the Indiana Department of Child Services in the neglect of a child under his supervision.
A warrant was issued Monday by Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings for the arrest of Spencer Day Osborn, 26, 800 block of Washington Street, in connection with the neglect and abuse of a 4-year-old boy.
Osborn is charged with two Level 3 felony charges of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury and two Level 5 felony counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury. Bond was set at $20,000.
If convicted, Osborn faces a possible prison sentence of three to 16 years on the Level 3 charges and one to six years on the Level 5 charges.
Cummings said the Madison Circuit Court Division 4 grand jury heard the case and recommended the charges be filed.
“The child was a ward of the state, which puts the caseworker in the place of the parent in terms of protecting the child from anything bad happening,” Cummings said. “He put the child in an environment he should have known was dangerous and didn’t do anything about it when he discovered the child was being abused.”
He said the child was severely injured over a long period of time and his mother, Kathryn Hill, had been convicted of neglect of a dependent previously. As a result of that neglect, the child was removed from her care and placed as a ward of the state.
“The child was placed in foster care and the caseworker returned the child to the mother, where he was seriously injured multiple times,” Cummings said.
In September, the boy was transported to Riley Hospital for Children with internal bleeding. He and five siblings have been returned to foster care.
“The Indiana Department of Child Services takes any allegation of misconduct against our employees very seriously, and the criminal case filed against our former employee is no exception,” DCS deputy director of communications Noelle Russell said. “As providers of services to Hoosier families and children in crisis, we consider child safety our first priority and will take whatever steps necessary to ensure our families’ needs are being met.”
Russell said the agency would have no further comments while the criminal process is underway.
Hill, 28, was charged in September with Level 3 felony neglect of a dependent.
Police described the 4-year-old’s physical condition as one of extreme neglect, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Chris Frazier of the Anderson Police Department.
“The child was in a state of malnutrition and appeared nearly unresponsive,” Frazier said in the affidavit. “The child could barely open his eyes and was making inaudible sounds.”
Cummings said Osborn went to the home and for a year didn’t check on that child at all.
“In the summer time, the child was wearing long sleeve shirts, was sleeping and never engaged in conversation,” he said. “The level of abuse is astonishing.”
Cummings said the caseworker went to the house but not as many times as he told police. His text messages and what he told police were inconsistent.
Cummings said the supervisor of the caseworker wrote a performance review that should have gotten the caseworker terminated.
“When the performance review was made that supervisor was ordered to change the review,” he said. “How that makes the system safer for the child I don’t understand.”
Cummings said it was certainly considered as an option to file charges against the supervisor.
“It’s a dramatic step to file charges against the caseworker,” he said.
At the time of Hill’s arrest in September, among the injuries documented by police were open sores on the child’s face and neck, burns to his face and ears, abrasions on the child’s face and injuries to his neck.
Hill told police her son’s injuries were due to him repeatedly falling down, but when Frazier pointed out the burns on her son’s ears and head she said it was from hot wax.
She said a bathroom wax burner fell over her son’s head, pouring wax over his head and ears, according to the affidavit.
At first, Hill told police it fell from an outlet, but later she changed her story and told police her son pulled it from the outlet. When she tried to grab it, the oil spilled over his head.
Hill then told Frazier her son had been “not walking, not being able to stand and sleeping constantly” within the last 24 hours.
While interviewing Hill, Frazier learned from the hospital that the child had bleeding on the brain due to trauma within the last 24 hours. Hill was unable to explain the injury, but said he had fallen down some stairs.
In 2014, Hill accepted a plea agreement on the Level 6 felony neglect of a dependent.
According to court records from the 2014 case, Hill left her home to take her 1-year-old daughter to the hospital for emergency care, but instead went to a friend’s home to buy cocaine.
Police said Hill gave three men her car for the cocaine and then attempted to report the vehicle stolen from the hospital parking lot.