A Kentucky mother’s nightmare began after she left her six children — ages 5, 4, 2 (twins) and 10 months (also twins) — inside of her 10-seater van to get them a quick snack.
Holly Curry parked in front of the Cobbler’s Cafe, a place police officers frequent because it’s close to the courts, and dashed inside to grab some muffins thinking it would be the last place a kidnapper would nab a child.
When she came out after waiting for her order less than 10-minutes later, two Hardin County deputies, rebuking Currying for leaving her kids in the car, told her she wasn’t being arrested.
She began to cry and requested permission to call her husband, Josiah, but officers denied that request, according to a Washington Post Op-Ed.
Authorities never asked to see the kids, who were sitting in the car.
Curry wasn’t charged with a crime, but officers told her they were going to file a “JC3 form” — to alert the Kentucky child protection system and officers allowed Curry to get back in the car and leave with her kids.
The next day, social worker from child protective services (Known as Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services in Kentucky) Jeanetta Childress came to Curry’s home and demanded they be allowed inside.
Josiah, her husband, was away on a business trip when she opened the door.
Curry was reluctant to allow Childress who claimed she had to conduct a “quick visual” check, inside of her home and told the social worker to come back when her husband was home.
Instead, she offered to bring the children to the door for a quick “visual check.”
Childress insisted she come inside.
Curry requested a warrant and Childress’ credentials.
The social worker then threatened Curry, warning that she would mark her case as “refusal of entry” and return with police.
Curry stood her ground and Childress left.
Later, however, Childress returned to Curry’s home, this time with Hardin County deputy Michael Furnish.
Neither had a warrant.
So Curry disallowed them entry.
Childress, along with Furnish, replied with a threat: if she didn’t let them in, they would return with an emergency custody order and take all her kids.
In other words, they were telling her, if she chose to stand on her Constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment she would lose her children.
“What’s it going to be?”
Curry opened her door.
Childress found nothing amiss inside the home, but she insisted on interrogating the oldest child, 5, without Curry’s consent alone behind closed doors in his bedroom.
Childress then reappeared from behind the door and questioned Curry about her home life.
Curry answered fully, according to a lawsuit filed by the HSLDA, which can be read below, afraid any refusal from now on would earn her more retribution.
Childress insisted on taking the youngest child from Curry’s lap and began undressing her then began to fully undress each child and removing the diapers of the two youngest.
Curry attempted to object, but according to the Op-Ed in the Washington Post, she knew she was powerless:
The last to be undressed was her 4-year-old son, taught by his pediatrician that he should never let a stranger take his clothes off without his mom’s okay. But when the boy tried to make eye contact with Curry, the investigator stood directly in his line of sight, leaving him helpless. Then the investigator pointed to the deputy and said, “Show that cop your muscles!” The little boy removed his shirt and flexed his biceps as ordered. The investigator and deputy began laughing while the investigator started to pull down his pants. When the little boy finally was able to look back at his mother, she was holding back tears. The little boy’s face registered shame and fear.
These systematic nude examinations by nonmedical personnel, all without Curry’s consent, yielded nothing in the way of evidence — no scrapes or bruises. But, Curry told us, “the experience left an indelible mark on our whole family. We all felt violated.
A few weeks later, the case against Curry was “unfounded” and social workers told Curry they viewed her mistake as a one-time-mistake-in-judgement “oopsy daisy.”
The strip-searches, threats of taking her children, forced entry, were not viewed as mistakes at all.
In fact, that’s just business as usual at CPS departments around the country, which the Op-Ed points out is the case in Kentucky:
The tactic of threatening child removal to gain entry into a home is apparently business-as-usual for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Recent reporting by WDRB News found a widespread practice in Jefferson County District Court of using preprinted court orders for investigators to issue emergency custody orders.
A child is three times as likely to be hit by lighting than to be kidnapped and killed by a stranger, according to University of Idaho law professor David Pimentel.
Read the lawsuit filed by Curry and her family below.