Father says caseworker ignored concerns

Saturday, August 24, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The biological father of a boy who apparently suffered a fatal injury while living in a foster home at Willard says a state caseworker ignored his concerns about the boy's care.

Dominic James, who turned 2 in June, died Wednesday morning shortly after he was taken off life support.

The child's father, Sidney James, said doctors told him the boy suffered from shaken baby syndrome.

St. Louis physician Mary Case, an international expert on the syndrome, conducted an autopsy Thursday afternoon. The autopsy found evidence of trauma to the head, said Willard police Sgt. Ron Killingsworth.

He said the investigation is continuing and had no further information Friday.

No charges have been filed.

Dominic had been in the foster home since mid-June. The Missouri Division of Family Services removed the boy from his parents' custody after police were called to a domestic disturbance involving the parents.

Sidney James said that since then, he had visited his son weekly and constantly saw new injuries on the boy.

"I kept asking what had happened to my son, and they kept telling me I was overreacting," said James, 49.

"One day I told them, 'Before you admit a flaw in the children's services, you'll let my son die, won't you?' I didn't know how close I was. ... This was my only son. They killed my only son."

Christine White, assistant deputy director of children's services for the Division of Family Services, said privacy laws prevent her from commenting on Dominic's case.

Meanwhile, family and friends have organized a candlelight vigil for the toddler for Sunday night.

Funeral and church services aren't expected until early next week.

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