Operation: Bring The Wynn Siblings Home
Removal State: North Carolina
Meet The Wynn Family
Operation Stop CPS completes independent, unbiased investigations into Child Welfare agencies removal of children from their family unit. The investigation uses critical thinking skills to make an objective analysis of the issue (the removal of the children) in order to form a judgement ( was the removal justified by the law).
An independent investigation into the removal of Prince and Zion has been completed and the facts lead to the conclusion that the children were removed illegally. As you read some of the highlights of our investigation, we hope you will take ACTION to ensure these precious children are returned to their mother immediately.
Location: Durham County, North Carolina
Date of Removal: December 30, 2019
Removal Parent: Ms. Wynn, mother
Children: Prince (age 3) Zion (age 4)
Name of Removal Agencies:
- Durham County Department of Social Services (Director-Ben Rose)
Removal CPS Worker: Michael LaBorde
Current Assigned CPS Worker: Rachel Moses
The Judge: Shamieka Rhinehart
The Prosecutor: Bettyna Abney
Ms. Wynn began a relationship with the father of her children at the age of 17 years old. This was Ms. Wynn's first relationship. In the beginning of the relationship, Ms. Wynn did not see any red flags that the father of her children would become abusive. After the birth of their first child, the father's behavior began to change. After the birth of their second son, the father became violent and Ms. Wynn had to leave the life she had created for her children suddenly. After leaving the father, he caused Ms. Wynn to loose her home after he busted out the windows of the home and destroyed her property after she left him. Ms. Wynn had to go to a shelter to protect herself and her children but the shelter staff was not supportive. Ms. Wynn was able to find refuge at her mother's home but the father began to show up there as well. During this period of transition for Ms. Wynn, Durham County CPS was contacted and an investigation began. Instead of providing Ms. Wynn with services to help Ms. Wynn and her children stay safe from the domestic violence, Durham County kicked Ms. Wynn out of her mother's home and petitioned the court for custody of the children. The children were placed with the grandmother from Dec 2019 to July 2021 and the mother and father had supervised visitation. In July 2021, the children were removed from the grandmother's home after the father, the perpetrator of the abuse, fabricated concerns to have the children removed from the grandmother's home. The children were placed in 2 different foster homes before they were placed in the home home of the father's sister. The father was able to manipulate CPS and the Court to gain power and control of Ms. Wynn by placing the children with his family member. There are currently safety concerns for the children in their current placement that continues to be ignored by Durham County CPS.
Timeline of Important Events
A report was accepted for investigation by Durham County Department of Social Services due to the mother being a victim of domestic violence. Ms. Wynn had to flea her apartment to ensure she and her children were safe. Instead of providing services to ensure Ms. Wynn and her children were safe from further violence, Durham County labeled the actions of Ms. Wynn, a domestic violence victim, "injurious" to her children.
While on her way home from an appointment, Ms. Wynn's belongings were stolen. This prompted Ms. Wynn to contact law enforcement to file a police report. Ms. Wynn was shocked to learn that Durham County CPS had reported to law enforcement that she posed a threat to her children's immediate safety and that she should not be allowed to leave with her children.
Luckily Ms. Wynn was not in Durham County, so law enforcement requested assistance from Orange County CPS to assess the immediate safety of the children. The Orange County CPS Investigator assessed that the children would be safe in their mother's care and drove Ms. Wynn and her children back home to Durham.
Michael LaBorde, Durham County After Hours Worker, arrived at the home unannounced and reported that he was instructed to take the children into custody because CPS was concerned that Ms. Wynn had placed her children in an injurious environment. NO new reports had been received since the Orange County Investigator assessed the children to be safe on 12/19/19. Ms. Wynn was forced to leave her mother's home, a place of refuge from the domestic violence she was experiencing and both children were placed with the grandmother.
Initial non-secure hearing. No evidence of neglect was presented, yet custody was continued with the State and a date was set for trial.
Durham County Social Worker, Cassandra Buffaloe-Owens, filed a supplemental petition alleging additional information that was not provided in the original petition filed by Michael LaBorde. The supplemental petition was approved for filing by Bettyna Abney, Sr. Assistant County Attorney.
Judge Shamieka Rhinehart signed an order finding both children neglected and continued custody with the State. The children remained in the care of the grandmother and Ms. Wynn was only allowed to have weekly visitation with the children. Ms. Wynn was ordered to complete the services recommended by Durham County CPS.
Judge Rhinehart signed a permanency planning order that changed the permanent plan for the children to guardianship even though Ms. Wynn was actively completing the recommended services. Durham County had no concerns for the children's safety in the home of the maternal grandmother which is evidenced by #9 on the permanency planning order.
Ms. Wynn's abuser fabricated safety concerns for the grandmother's home in an attempt to gain power and control of Ms. Wynn and the children. Without verifying these concerns and realizing the tactics of domestic violence perpetrators, both children were ripped from their grandmother's home without a court order. The children were placed in a licensed foster home. Watch the removal of the children below.
This case was heard by Judge Rhinehart for a permanency planning review. Ms. Wynn's attorney argued that there was no valid reason to remove the children from the grandmother's care and that no evidence has been presented to verify the safety concerns alleged against the grandmother. Regardless of these facts, Judge Rhinehart continued the children's placement in a licensed foster home.
Judge Rhinehart ordered that the children be placed in the home of the father's sister. This is how Ms. Wynn's abuser was able to manipulate CPS and the Court to successfully gain power and control over Ms. Wynn and the children. The permanent plan for the children remained guardianship even though Judge Rhinehart acknowledged that the mother had completed all the services on her case plan. Next permanency planning review scheduled for March 8, 2022.
The permanency planning hearing continued to be postponed due to lack of court time. Ms. Wynn's right to due process continues to be denied while her children are abused and neglected in their current placement.
The next court date was scheduled for August 5, 2022.
A Child and Family Team meeting was held to discuss why Durham County suspended Ms. Wynn's visits with her children on May 25, 2022. As you listen to the audio, you can hear that Durham County was unable to provide a valid reason for the suspension of Ms. Wynn's visits. Durham County was also unable to provide a valid reason for the delay in reunification.
Ms. Wynn's visits resumed with her children since Durham County was unable to provide a valid reason for the suspension.
Currently in America, victims of domestic violence have their children ripped from their hands by the Family Regulation System, also known as Child Protective Services. Do you think that is right? If not, join us by taking action to demand the immediate reunification of the Wynn children to their mother.
TAKE ACTION NOW
Can You Please Help By Taking The Following Actions:
1. Contact Ben Rose, Durham County Director, at 919-560-8039 or [email protected] to demand the immediate reunification of Prince and Zion Wynn to their mother.
2. Contact Wendy Jacobs, Chair of the Social Services Board, at [email protected] or 919-418-3169, to demand the return of the Wynn children to the custody of their mother, Alexis Wynn, immediately.
3. Please post the link to this page along with a photo of the children to your social media and contact everyone you know to share this story. Use #OperationStopCPS
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