KNOXVILLE, TN – A custody case here highlights a big problem with child welfare in Tennessee: collusion between Juvenile Court judges and the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) and its foster system that takes kids from their families and abuses its power to keep them there. 

The case also shows how outside contractors, who provide foster care for about half of the 8500 children DCS takes into custody every year, conspire to keep them from re-unifying with their parents.  

Catrina and Chris Prokop are trying to get DCS to return Catrina’s 5-year-old boy, Zaylen. He has been in foster care since February 2020. The foster home provider is Childhelp, a large nonprofit that contracts with DCS for foster and adoption services in Knoxville. Childhelp operates in California, Arizona, Tennessee, and Virginia.  It had state and local contracts worth $36 million in 2020. 

The Backstory

Catrina grew up hard. She has been on her own since she was 16. She made some bad choices but she has made some good ones, too, particularly where her kids are concerned.

Chris grew up in a boys’ home in Oregon. “I got in trouble a little bit when I was a kid, learned ‘ok’, that’s not the way to go and got myself corrected and kind of made a little bit of myself. I am not without means,“ Prokop said. 

DCS hates two things: people who have the resources to defend themselves in court and people who don’t lie.

“There is so much underhanded stuff going on. There is a group who are working together to steal our baby,” he said. 

On November 28, 2019 Catrina gave birth to son Bentley, now 2. A drug screen showed he had methadone in his system. Mom was on methadone under doctor’s order to help her kick an addiction to pills. He advised her not to withdraw from it while she was pregnant because it could harm the baby. 

“There was nothing in his system but methadone,” Catrina told the Tribune. Catrina had taken percoset and gabapentin for a blood clot in her leg and after some dental work while she was pregnant.  However, she was tested and they were out of her system three months before Bentley was born. Since then she has slowly weaned off methadone and stopped taking it completely in January 2022. Accept for methadone, she has been clean for three years. 

However, DCS has an addiction it can’t seem to kick. It likes to snatch babies. They took baby Bentley into custody from the hospital on December 1, 2019. (See https://tntribune.com/twas-the-night-before-christmas/)

“I didn’t even get to see him,” Catrina said. She had supervised visitation every two weeks for two hours with the boys. That lasted a few months. Then DCS gave Bentley to his dad, who has not let Catrina see him since June 2021. She has supervised visitation with Zaylen every week for an hour.  

The Trial

DCS brought a dependency and neglect case against Catrina. According to the Prokops, the case was a travesty. It involved perjury, denial of due process, false allegations of drug abuse, and false reports filed by Childhelp that were taken as gospel by the judge.

“I feel like when I walked in there I didn’t’ even have a chance,” Catrina said. 

She said she was attacked and not listened to. “And the judge was pretty much arguing on behalf of DCS. She was biased,” she said.

“Apparently Bentley and Zaylen have a Mom who’s a drug user,” Magistrate Irene Joseph said. “That’s absolutely not true,” Catrina said. Magistrate Joseph found her guilty anyway.  

“We are appealing because the state failed to prove its case,” said Brandon Potter, the Prokops’ lawyer. 

“We had expert testimony from a leading fetal development doctor in the country and they didn’t’ want to listen to his reasoning.  Dr. Emanuel Vlastos said the things she did in no way, shape, or form did any harm to the child. He’s not some ‘joe blow’ doctor we found in the corridor. He teaches in the medical school at the University of Missouri,” Potter said.

DCS has a playbook it pulls out in Juvenile Courtrooms all over Tennessee. It has many players on its team. Winning requires portraying Mom as drug addict to get legal custody of a child they have already wrongfully taken. 

One of the players in this case is Childhelp, the DCS contract provider, who placed Zaylen in a foster home.

Catrina and Zaylen on February 23, 2021 outside Childhelp visitation site in Knoxville.

Erin Law works for Childhelp. She reported that during one of Catrina’s visits with Zaylen, Catrina went to the bathroom to take drugs. When she came out, Law’s supervisor accused her of taking a pill while she was in there. When Catrina left, she went straight to get a drug test that came back negative. That didn’t make it into Childhelp’s monthly report to DCS, so the judge never knew the test was negative. But the unfounded allegation did. Prokop offered to pay to polygraph all three of them to find out who was lying. Childhelp declined his offer. 

Foster mom, Shana Leist, reported a black truck parked outside her home and followed her around. She said she had a photo with license plate number. “The photo never showed up,’” Prokop said.  He owns a black truck but said he was in Missouri on business at the time of the alleged stalking. 

“But it still ended up in the report that goes to the judge and all parties in the case get copies,” Prokop said. 

According to Childhelp, during one of his visits, Chris peed all over the bathroom and in their opinion he needed a psychiatric evaluation.

Zaylen’s therapist, who works for Childhelp, testified against the Prokops in the trial. She didn’t say much about Zaylen, except that he was anxious, had trouble sleeping, and wasn’t ready for a trial home visit with the Prokops. Chris Prokop said she talked a lot about what bad people they were. 

Chris reached out to the foster parents, Shana and David Leist, but they were not interested in meeting them “I wanted them to see we are good people,’ Chris said. For his part Zaylen calls Mrs. Leist  “Mommy” now. He reported to Catrina that “Mommy” told him Trina didn’t take care of him and doesn’t love him.  Zaylen now calls Catrina “Trina”.   

DCS is required to have regular family planning meetings with the goal to either return the child to its family or seek termination of parental rights so the child can be adopted. A Childhelp caseworker was present at those meetings about Zaylen. 

When DCS takes a child it draws draw up a permanency plan with the goal of reunification. But the longer the case drags on, at some point DCS will put termination of parental rights on the table. That’s what happened in this case.

”It was just one delay after another,” Prokop said. He said COVID shutdown the courthouse for months and when the case finally got in front of the Magistrate, she delayed it for another 2½ months to give DCS time to refute Mom’s expert medical witness.

After Magistrate Joseph found Catrina guilty anyway, it took a month to get transcripts to prepare an appeal. “When we filed a notice of appeal. It took 3½ months for them to get the case from one desk to another desk in Chancery Court,’ Prokop said. It’s hard to say if that was incompetence or designed inefficiency, or both. But the longer a case drags on, the more likely DCS will sue for termination of parental rights.

The Aftermath

Every year since 2015, DCS has had more than 1,000 kids waiting to be adopted. In 2019, it had 1743, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

If you want to adopt a child, you can go through an agency or you can apply with DCS. DCS foster families sometimes adopt their foster children. But dealing with DCS can be a tricky business.

DCS routinely plays birth families and foster families against each other. They encourage competition between them. DCS acts like some high school kid who sets up fistfights after school. They don’t care who wins. DCS takes its share of the pot and moves on to the next case. There’s always another case. 

When kids are about to be returned to their birth family, DCS tells the fosters. That happened to Angela Moyo Jr. In that case, the foster parents immediately filed a termination petition in Circuit Court and stopped the placement. All this adversarial backstabbing and manipulation has a price tag. It’s pricey to go through court proceedings no matter which side you are on. DCS controls the action and kids can wind up as hostages or collateral damage. (See https://tntribune.com/dcs-trolls-black-babies-for-cash/)

The Prokops told DCS they were going to file an appeal on January 13, 2022. The fosters got wind of it, probably through Childhelp who heard it from DCS. On January 12, Shana and David Leist filed two petitions in Chancery Court to terminate parental rights (TPR) and to stop DCS from pulling Zaylen from their home and placing him elsewhere, including returning Zaylen to his birth Mother. 

On Tuesday January 26, lawyers met outside court and struck a deal. Shana and David Leist withdrew their petition to restrain DCS from taking Zaylen but the TPR petition is still pending in Knox County Chancery Court. This is an example of how DCS maintains control of child welfare cases while pretending to be acting in the child’s best interest.

According to Prokop, the Leist’s TPR petition copied and pasted a lot of hearsay and unsubstantiated evidence from DCS’s Dependency and Neglect petition. A Chancery Court judge may insist they prove those allegations.

TPR cases have priority under Tennessee law. As soon as the fosters filed their TPR petition, the custody battle stopped. Even if the Chancery court denies the TPR, the foster parents can appeal, and while that plays out nothing happens. The longer the case drags on, the longer the separation, and the more alienation the child and its birth mother suffer.

 “I’ve had termination that took 6,7,8,9,10 months, a year,” Potter said. But he said three to four months would be a realistic time frame before he would expect to argue the Prokops’ appeal.

At some point, however, the bond between child and Mom can be permanently severed.  The Prokops think that is exactly what the opposing players are trying to do.

“During my visits with Zaylen, I could just feel their hostility. I was uncomfortable going to visit him because I didn’t know what they might do,” Catrina said. 

As a party in the case, Childhelp not only testified falsely against the birth family, but also did everything they could to delay family therapy and trial home visits. They said Zaylen wasn’t ready. A weekend with the Prokops might well be in Zaylen’s best interest but it’s not in Childhelp’s interest. Why should they cooperate with family reunification?

Zaylen and Chris December 23, 2021 at the Childhelp visitation center.

Call it collusion, conspiracy, or a kangaroo court. In the Juvenile Court case, DCS, the magistrate, the Guardian ad Litem, Childhelp, and the foster parents were in cahoots. The Prokops had an expert witness and their lawyer on the other side. The Prokops lost. The longer the case remains unresolved the biggest loser will be 5-year old Zaylen. Nobody knows how long that will take.

Join the Conversation

52 Comments

      1. Please contact me as well. I need help in Oregon. The Same tactics, collusion and conspiracy. 360.916.9569. Please!

      2. Hi Chris! Could you please contact me as well? I had a similar situation that’s almost exactly the same scenario you’re facing.

      3. Hi, Chris. I’ve dealt with the same situation. The details are almost exactly the same as what you’re experiencing. Is there a way to contact you?

      4. We also have very similar case in Knoxville trying to get some help on this. I’d like to get everyone together in Knox with attorney and fight it’s not fair. Our kids were taken when my mother inlaw was approved by the state to keep kids they denied her and put then in foster care. Our children got so upset when they had to leave us they made our visits further apart to seperate our bond. We had several caseworkers in the beginning and no permancy plan for months but the judge didn’t know and even though we had only had a permancy plan for a month he thought we had one for 6 months and just wasn’t getting anything done. We weren’t allowed to talk at court and our attorneys just sat there while DCS got to address the judge. One of the lawyers for the kids that never met my kids but had a past with me and my husband stood up in court like we were in a murder trial yelling it was unbelievable. We would get things done pass drug test and they made false allegations of abuse when they knew we could pass drug test. The allegations were proven unfounded. They would cancel visits if we were 1 minute late. I had a job in Oliver Springs from 9-5 I have a career I couldn’t just leave. I was to be at visits at 5:30 in Knox which made it impossible. The judge even told DCS which I was shocked I shouldn’t have to quite my job to figure it out. Once we walked out of the court room it didn’t matter what the judge said it was about what they told us to do. What was I supposed to do the judge wouldn’t talk to me outside of court so no one held them liable. Our children were separated our 6 year old was places in a mental facility by himself around Christmas time for something he drew on paper. The kids therapist sat with us during some visits to clear us they did and we went back to normal visits then all the sudden my 6 yr Olds therapist SAS he was scared of me and had made allegations against Mr. I have pictures from our visits at that therapist office where you can tell he is in no way scared of me. I finally paid a attorney that was gun hoe then when in the court room the same thing sat there said do what they say. Come to find out she had gotten a job for the state and withdrew herself they then gave me a court appointed lawyer and said I couldn’t get another paid attorney 2 weeks before they had a termination hearing. I asked for it to be rescheduled to fill this attorney in they denied it. There’s so much more the whole thing is so unfair. They took my kids while my dad was dying from ALS he was my best friend my late husband had just died prior and my grandmother passed away. They called me for a drug test the day of my dad’s funeral. I can go on and on. Please someone help us in Knox they do whatever they want and the kids are who gets hurt. They in no way are in for the best interest of the children. Something needs to happen they have got to be stopped.

      5. Title d 5 funding social security and ASFA. Follow the money!!! attorneys judges dcs foster homes schools police guardian at litums every one of these so called officials has their hands in the honey pot. All looking towards the children for theor pay checks. Write up an affidavit of truth ur truths!! Registered mail send to judge attorneys dcs worker all in private not in their official capacities. Place it specifically “on the public record” at county recorders office ran in news paper 21 days they do jot rebut ur affidavit it stands as truth!! And then ask court for judgement on ur truths upon ur record. I fired my attorney once I seen everyone has attorneys we take whatever attorney or paying it dont matter they are all members of the BAR Assosiation. All in it together!! We r people God days show no respect to persons we r not persons thats the officials they did a switcheroo on us. Get everyone u van to go to court wotb u and if u have courage to fire attorney u appear in court by special appearance and announce it before u go in court room wjth another affidavit stating u are apreaing as such.

  1. When is Government going to be in compliance with Constitutional Accountability? Sworn Oath of protection dose not equate to Prostitution of Liberty .
    Liquidity Fraud Processing Errors
    Plain as Day. Abuse and neglect innocent unsuspecting American Families. Alienated Integrity.
    Faith and Family ❌❌
    299 792 458 for True Justice
    Case Law for Maintaining
    God Given Rights.
    Courage for Freedom.

    1. (3^10*8) this post has been bugging me.. Took me a minute…
      These people…What integrity? What honor? What humility? What kindness?
      We have to Fight for truth, integrity and transparency. More light is needed… the light by my last answer is 347642

  2. It’s a very corrupt system. It’s never about the best intersect of the child. It’s about politics and money. The Juvenile Court AND DCS often abuse their powers. A full blown investigation is needed to stop this abuse of power.

  3. The level of dishonesty and collusion is impossible to capture in the story. I am continuously amazed to see the number of people involved that are completely void of any decency, integrity, humility or honor. At any and all cost, there must be accountability for what these people have and are doing to people. Without this things will never change.

    1. Same thing happened to my grandchildren in TX. They legally kidnap children and then their friends or the highest bidder end up with them. If you don’t have the means to keep fighting. Or your lawyer is dirty too. It’s a travesty.

    2. I’m dealing with this now! They took my step daughter out of my home for no reason! I don’t know what to do, who can I contact for help

  4. I have watched Macon County DCS pin a mom in a corner in a court room to make her cry and confess to child abuse. I have watched them deny ADA assistance to a father who needed it. I have watched them scream at a mom (gang up on her) demanding something they wanted. I have seen foster parents allowed phones in a court room but not the biological family. I have been in FTMs where they all laugh together and don’t take what’s going on seriously. I have watched my niece be ripped from her family by TN DCS because the foster parents were connected with the state. This article hits spot on how their system works.

  5. In my daughter’s case, they kept citing in court, the allegations of failed drug tests. She presented an expert witness who effectively countered all their ‘evidence,’ but the magistrate, after qualifying the expert and hearing the testimony, just threw it out with no real explanation of why. He merely stated he didn’t believe it, despite there being no basis for him to do so, and no evidence offered to counter the expert’s testimony.

  6. I am a foster parent that has worked in the system for a while now. I have seen many children return home with their parents AFTER THEY COMPLETED the requirements needed to reach the goal of reunification. I can honestly say I have never personally seen children kept from parents who worked towards the goals that the judge required them to complete.

    I also see the utter devastation in the lives of those children, the scars, the emotional pain, the anger, the severe physical delays from drug abuse. .we are the ones holding their children, trying to help them cope and overcome the neglect and abuse they have endured. We are there to help these children AND support the parents. No one takes kids just to take kids. It is a sad situation anytime children are taken into custody. I have SOOOO much more to say but I will just leave you with this. Be grateful that you have those willing to love and care for your babies and help them through this difficult time.

    1. That’s wonderful that you haven’t had the misfortune of seeing what we’ve seen. In our case the child should’ve never been taken to begin with. Keep in mind just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Our whole family has fallen victim to this corrupt system. I will say that just because the system has corruption doesn’t mean that everything it does is corrupt. There is certainly a mountain of evidence that supports a lot of very horrible things being done in juvenile court and buy others. I can see the need for children to be helped at times. I was made a ward of the state when I was a kid. There are a lot of bad actors in this system though. It might be you haven’t seen it because nobody seems to care or do anything about the corruption. The families are just left devastated at the hands of the government. In most cases without the ability for any kind of recourse. I will say that at some point choices are generally made then put people in a position to fall victim to the system. It doesn’t mean the system treated them fairly or just leave it all. I have no doubt that there are people that generally care and do the right things. I have run into some of them also. But boy there are the others also

      1. In thirty years it started with book writers discussing divorce and the increase in divorce, then it became good for grandmothers and grandchildren due to grandparent supports for the family, mental health and grandchildren, then on to getting races off of welfare, then take down the middle class so as to bring on other races perhaps, so in thirty years and the past 20 years mostly has been media and groups with major interference thus I have direct life experiences being treated awful as well as my children and their children although thankful for my mental health …it hasn`t deteriorated so I have hope for my family and yours and others with the current issues that I don`t blame as being the government but the home visitors or nowadays they`ll take children where parents grandparents or parent arranged(prior to dss arranging with the parent(s)) take their children for the day or their own family plan for mother; their child(ren) for family and school–lawful education posed by the family and state.

    2. Ma’am you are in denial because you suffer from the savior complex. If you were really honorable you’d help the family instead of trying to be some hero. We see it all day while people like you turn a blind eye to get a check. Pathetic!

    3. I completed my perm plan Feb 2020. Passed multiple psychiatric exams. Passed parenting evaluations. Passed every random drug test including one that required me to pee in a cup with the public stall door open and supervised. Always employed, own my home, never drugs nor alcohol nor legal issues of any sort. I have court ordered therapy five times per week despite my clear psychs. We have adjudication against the offending ex. My children gone on court record to say they want to come home, they love me, but DCS still claims they are terrified and want to be adopted.
      They say if they are moved to a pre adoptive home they will kill themselves. The therapist advised that adoption should not be added to the perm plan. DCS added it. The therapist advised that therapeutic visitation should increase. DCS petitioned to quash. The FSW has ignored calls, texts, and emails since March of 2021. I make sure to dole out prescribed contact every week anyway. I have a pristine record. DCS still wants adoption. I completely understand the frustration in this story. Thank God I have a lawyer who won’t quit

  7. I’m going through a similar situation here in Carter County, TN. I’ve had custody of my granddaughter since she was 4 months old. She is now 14. She had gotten into a lil trouble, nothing major, but DCS stepped in and took her out of my custody and she is now in states custody, had to spend time in Chattanooga, TN first, then Knoxville, TN. She completed what was necessary and got to come back to Carter County, TN. Now, mind you, I haven’t been charged with ANYTHING in this case and would give my own life if she could just come home. We went through a down period in our life. The death of my husband and her grandfather. We were kicked out of our home by the same judge that we are going in front of for this case. There’s not going to be any fair hearings because DCS has made us out to be the worst kind of people. If anyone can help me get my granddaughter back home, I would be so grateful. I’m never giving up on my granddaughter. But anytime you deal with DCS, you can know you’re getting ready to get screwed over.

  8. You are dealing with true evil. Everything you have heard about foster care , DCS and the juvenile court is TRUE. They will exploit and abuse your child in every way. They did this to my children and I am still going through the hell. I did NOTHING. I work for the federal government with a great background, no drugs, no mental health issues. 6 bedroom house and steady income. They targeted me because of a divorce, where the person I was divorcing was estranged from me for over 5 years and had a baby with another woman that was taken away by DCS. He sold his own children out to these devils, and in return they rewarded him by dancing allover my rights and labeling me as a child abuser for all his false allegations. He wanted to get out of paying child support so he told DCS to take my kids away and made false allegations. They were all proven to be false, but since the child snatching demons already established the dependency in the court, my children were doomed. There is no help when they label you as a child abuser. I have done all their bs therapy and proven I “benefited” from their “services” that I paid for…. over a year ago.They returned all my children ,BUT the children we had in common because they are fighting to reward him custody. They want to overturn my divorce decree and grant him full custody which is impossible because I’ve been divorced for years now and I’m remarried.
    The only reason my case is still open has nothing to do with child safety, but rather DCS trying to reward the traitor who cast his own children into foster care to be sexually and physically abused for a year and a half while the state profited from all the kangaroo court crap. My advice is ITS ALL FAKE. Scream at the top of your lungs. Nobody will hear you or your child suffer. Gather in groups and start demonstrations like QANON and the will label you as a terrorist. There is evil in America and this is it. I am sorry that we share the same pain , and it feels like death.

  9. I also have a case very similar needing advice or legal counsel. Apparently in the state of Tennessee we were told You can not bring a lawsuit or legal claim against DCS. If there is any lawyer out there that can help or give us some advice please respond back asap. Thanks

  10. My grandson was ripped out of my home by DCS using “extingent” circumstances. I have passed many background checks and adopted his sibling. They lied, forged documents and told me in the very first meeting that DNA would not matter. DCS gave him to my daughter’s probation officer. The Adoption and Safe Families Act needs to be repealed; it gives all kinds of incentives to CPS workers to place kids with foster care. This is equal to slavery as these kids are “for sale”. I was out all kinds of money but PSI worker was not out a penny for his “adoption”. All kinds of road blocks were put out by foster parent and DCS to break bonding with his biological family. Making it worse is the conspiracy under the guise of “confidentiality” which desperately needs the light shined on it. It is apparent that transparency is long overdue on these corrupt state workers. Foster parent-directly involved in the case and was given many favors by the judicial system she works in. I was told that DCS has different rules for different regions. I am in Upper Cumberland Region.

  11. Wouldn’t a halfway decent reporter wanting to tell the whole story contact the other side for comment? I don’t know either side but to hide behind a keyboard and slander one side without asking their comment or side seems cowardice to me. Just saying.

    Haha almost ironic given the attack on DCS not listening. Maybe they’re hiring, your reporting style is their type.

  12. I’m going through the same exact thing in Kentucky. It’s been going on since 2017. Now it’s to the point that I’m not even allowed visitation and they’ve moved with my daughter and I have absolutely no idea where she is.

  13. I’m so sorry this family has had to suffer at the hands of these systems and their bold aggressive tactics under the color of law. I have been a foster parent and worked diligently with children and families to reconcile. I can say first hand their is a unspoken projection to make the foster parent appear superior to the biological family. These agencies and courts are committing fraud and trafficking under the color of law. There is a huge mass of parents who see this and are staying truth and facts. And this child snatching by the KourtNappers isn’t just happening with children it is happening with elderly and medical fragile children with medical trusts. These are bold and aggressive tactics under the color of law trafficking and enslavement with a bond paid. Please do research all the social media is full of our cases when is enough – enough ?

  14. Well I’ll start with a story I read about the kid in the movie Home Alone and the part that got my attention was when you spoke about the man with red leather shoes and how it ties to pedophilia child abduction and more look at the guy in the picture what color are his shoes wow as for me and my family we’ve been destroyed my business destroyed my kids five of them taken stole from me but separated in five different directions even and yeah the reunification process is it complete lie it’s away. Pastime as they destroy the family it consumed all the resources and nearly my soul my wife is now my ex and my kids I have no idea I don’t even know what the real charges are I’ve been learning law I’m doing my best I can’t even get ahold of a government official not one I’m in the state of Kansas Osage County I’m Joe steinke the judge was Taylor wine kvc office and Ottawa Kansas turn into tofi after a lawsuit but kept the same employees just as criminal as ever
    Terry drake corruthers you might want to investigate also Alexis Bell TFI
    and the gang leader DCF the RICHEST looking building in Topeka they control everything even the government officials like the governor Laura Kelly attorney general Derek Smith and there’s more of course oh yeah I don’t want to forget Osage County Sheriff’s Department and Jack Hobbs the district attorney I didn’t put in jail unlawfully keep me quiet because of what I’m doing right now even for an example for your information if I wind up dead it’s not because I wanted to die because I was assassinated by the names organizations I listed in this story I’ve written

  15. A DCS Team Coordinator used to remove the children of young, drug addicted mothers who served as her husband’s (police) informants. DCS refused to place them with their grandparents. The infant was placed with a nurse who used to like playing foster parents to infants because she couldn’t have children of her own.

    TN Tribune should publish an article asking the public to come forward- confidentially, with their stories if they were once substance abusing informants whose children were removed by DCS. Check TN Valley.

  16. I would love to share my story I went to the hospital and dcs came and took my kid from the babysitter no investigation or evidence. I have proof my mental health does not effect my parenting and had I had help when i asked, I wouldn’t have had a reason to go to the hospital

  17. I just wanted to say I signed up for a 3-year subscription to the TN Tribune just to support the great work they are doing in publicizing the problems with DCS in TN. Encourage others to do the same!

  18. To give you an idea of the ethical debauchery of some (but not all) DCS “investigators:”

    TN DCS paid our Case Manager over $66,000 in 2019 and more than $69,000 in 2020. And that doesn’t even include other income sources such as child support payments, Covid stimulus payments, etc.

    Taking advantage of the Covid eviction moratorium, she decided to stiff her landlord for rent. The moratorium was implemented to help those with Covid-related hardship – not deadbeats that continued to receive their full salary and benefits and incurred no hardships.

    The DCS case manager then used the $20,000 in unpaid rent to justify declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy to avoid having to repay her other consumer debts, the vast majority of which was almost $30,000 in student loans which, historically, usually can’t be discharged via bankruptcy.

    To “prove” she couldn’t make payments on her debt, she detailed some interesting monthly expenses. Among them was over $500 per month in transportation expenses (gas, depreciation, etc.), the vast majority of which was probably reimbursed by the state of Tennessee at 50 to 60 cents per mile and thus shouldn’t be listed at all.

    Also included in monthly expenses were hundreds of dollars of car payments to family. That’s odd because no vehicles were included in the assets or liabilities declarations in the bankruptcy filing. It also suggests a probably unsecured liability which should be wiped out by bankruptcy. Bankruptcy law forbids paying back “loans” to family members while stiffing everyone else.

    Accidental oversight? Not likely. That $30,000 in wiped-out student loans was for a criminal justice major. Her lawyer was paid months in advance meaning he may have advised her to hold off in declaring bankruptcy to stiff creditors like her landlord for more.

    So about $70,000 per year in income, living rent free, and liabilities wiped out…where did the money go? That’s where the story really gets dark.

  19. For verification: The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service provides electronic public access to federal court records. PACER provides the public with instantaneous access to more than 1 billion documents filed at all federal courts. https://pacer.uscourts.gov/

  20. “If I were going to do a school shooting, would you bring a gun?” …asked our 14-year son in 2018.

    A call was made to a law enforcement hotline. The Knox County Sheriff’s Department responded. DCS was notified. Karns Middle School initiated a series of meetings. The school shooting threat was ultimately dismissed as joking.

    But what the police, DCS, and school investigators didn’t know at the time – and still don’t know or have ignored:

    “Well I bought you a killing machine” bragged his aunt’s live-in boyfriend nicknamed “The Ganster (sic) Al” in a haunting reminder of the Ethan Crumbly school shooting.”

    But not one killing machine, three machetes, one each for the 3 children.

    The 3 teenage boys posed for photos and videos killing family members with the machetes while their aunt smiled in the background.

    The aunt and her boyfriend were awarded temporary custody of the 3 children. That was 1.5 years ago. Why? Because of a false allegation that the mother forced one of her children to touch her breast – several years ago. No evidence. No witnesses. Just an allegation.

    DCS and juvenile systems failures don’t just threaten immediate families. They threaten every child.

  21. Chris answer this for me please. I have completed everything DCS has asked of me have had negative test and on Feb 23 they want to close my case without returning my children because lack of cooperation. I feel like my case isn’t being handled right I hired an attorney and she is useless I need help I need my babies home 16 years I have raised all 6 of my kids on my own no child support just me. I now have to pay 1000 a month on child support just on 2 kids I need answers please

  22. I can’t begin to tell everyone what my kids and me and family went thru. It ultimately killed my mom. Killed my spirit for a very long time. But I’m stronger today. My name is Cindy Hardy. My son was raped at MTN View Youth Development Center in Dandridge TN. I spoke out publicly on the news, went to capital hill and grew in numbers with others DCS then contacted me via Nashville DCS they wanted to utilize me to help families who had conflicts with DCS THEN BAMMMMM MY OTHER 4 KIDS WERE SNATCHED. They wouldn’t even lete bring their personal belongings. Sara Silvers KNOX CO DCS WORKER committed perjury. ASFA105-89 gives workers more power then the judges. They can legally commit perjury in executive branches which is juvenile courts. I was lied on. Lost everything and I can’t begin to speak on the rest. But ppl plz pray about what your going thru. God is going to expose everything evil against humanity especially with children. What happened to us ALL OF US shall be revealed. Justice shall prevail. Stay strong stand tall and seek refuge in the most high God. Psalms 91 READ IT DAILY. GOD BE WITH U ALL

    1. So sorry to hear of your situation. Thank you for your words of support. God has a plan. It is so hard to understand how He would allow such horrible corruption and injustice to exist sometimes, but that is a deeper philosophical discussion I suppose.
      His judgement cometh and that right soon. We just have to get up everyday and fight for our son in the interim.

  23. I am a grandmother of two precious grandkids. they were taken from their parents under totally false accsations. Judge ordered they be placed with family if possible…instead they were immediately placed into states custody, taken to Foster Care home in another county. My grandson snuck and sent me a message after 3 days and told me where they were. after 9 days of jumping through hoops I finally got the kids home with me, but I was forced to become a foster parent in order to keep them. Of course i done all that to keep them. now afterover a year the corrupt DCS and a Judge who bows down to these corrupt people an does whatever they say, mind you no investigation into anything DCS does or says, DCS are now moving to give me permanent guardianship even tho they have parents who love them and done nothing wrong for their children to be removed to begin with. Parents and myself are at wits end as to what else to do. DCS are liars, deceitful, manipulating evil people an the attorney for the children is just ass bad as DCS. they act like this is a game to them, IT IS NOT THE CHILDREN theyre concered about I promise you that. they’re lining their pockets..3 attorneys, caseworkers, mental health workers, all gettinhbigbucks from the state to keep these children in custody of the state. We need help too to get these kids home where they belong with their loving parents. Im feeling desperate to do whats right but I feel theres no where to turn. This CRAAAAPPPP with covid is also just another diguise they use to do their dirty deeds. I feel for all of you parents out there trying. Its true you really dont have a chance. If anyone wouldve told me this really happens to good parents, I might not believed that much corruption is going on but I guarantee it is…So sad. I pray daily that GOD will open peoples eyes to what’s really going on in these corrupt offices. I’m not the only person I know right here in my county going thru similar situations. I have met several other families fighting like hell for their children but its nearly impossible with all the corrupt Judges and caseworkers in our area for sure.

  24. The allegation of corruption within DCS is a very bold but true statement. (Ask me for details if you’re curious.)

    DCS has destroyed more families than Planned Parenthood and coat hangers combined, like an abortion clinic with a four lane drive-through, as if Tennessee extended legal abortion to 18 years – years, not weeks. DCS is the James and Jennifer Crumbley of child protective services. Family values my ass.

    Offended? Good. Do something about it. Meanwhile, here are some tips for dealing with DCS:

    Rule # 1: Be white.

    I’m kinda kidding. Being white really makes a difference but, as this and my case shows, doesn’t move the needle much. They ran out of Native American children a long time ago so every family is vulnerable (except the governor’s).

    Rule # 2: Just give up.

    How many great investigative articles has the Tribune published on the problems with DCS and family courts? Twenty or so? And how much difference has it made? Near zip so just give up.

    Flood the state with children. Otherwise, DCS will just come back and back spurred by every single call from your crazy aunt because that’s another case number and it’s those ever-increasing duplicated case numbers that are needed to increase DCS funding, job security, and pay raises.

    Let the state pay the costs. That’s all that Tennessee citizens really care about, taxes. And the Tennessee government just wants to feed the custody industry.

  25. I am a grandmother who is involved with Knoxville DCS about my granddaughter. Here I naively thought my case is unique, according to the article and comments that isn’t so. I know they are taking advantage of the fact that grandparents don’t have any rights when it comes to their grandchildren and that I can’t afford an attorney. There have been so many lies, fabrications, and manipulations going on with this, that I am at my wit’s end. Oh and by the way, she was not taken from me, there were no allegations of abuse or neglect or anything, she was running away. I got DCS involved because the police kept saying there was nothing they could do, that she was not legally a runaway because she kept going to school. The biggest mistake I made in my life. I need help and don’t know where to get it.

  26. Man oh mannn.. this is an all true case of injustice that has afflicted the Prokop’s, and many other families throughout this nation. Can I scream this loud enough? COLOR OF LAW,
    Americans with Disabilities Act!!!!
    INFECTED & UNJUST BIAS OF JUVINILE COURT SYSTEMS IN USA…
    WE NEED A REFORM IN OUR BLIND COURT SYSTEM….

  27. I live in Hamilton County Tn. I am the Grandmother in this situation. My Daughter tested positive For Meth, Pot, and Zanex after giving birth to a perfectly healthy baby boy. CPS said the positive test was very light so let me get this out of the way first. In no way am I saying “That is OK” but what followed is not. The Father is locked up in a detention jail and has been for a year now for domestic abuse. He knocked my Daughter down a flight of stairs, dragged her outside by the head of her hair and pummeled her. He verbally said he was going to kill her and the baby but the opportunity did not arise as help arrived in time to send him off to the clink. I went to the hospital to see my Daughter and meet my Grandson only to be told I would have to wait because a state person was in her room talking with her. Next thing I knew she was talking to me and asking if I could take the baby. I said no as I had nothing “baby” in my home to take care of one. They took her baby boy the next day and it has been nothing but shady ever since. After buying what is needed to take a baby I petitioned the court for custody with my Husband in tow! We were given temp custody instead of full. We met the Foster parents to exchange him and to be very honest, they are very good people and had we of known that, we would have left the baby there until my Daughter could regain custody doing whatever DCS/CPS demanded she do. Little did we know that their plan was to make that impossible for her to do. The baby’s attorney in court charged my Daughter with severe abuse even though the baby is 100% perfect according to our Pediatrician. The Father was simply to take domestic violence classes but was not charged with severe abuse. I don’t know, but attempted murder of a Mother and fetus should have qualified for that! We had the baby for two weeks before he was snatched away from us under what the state attorney now calls a miscommunication. My Husband and I agreed before this act that we would return the baby to the original Foster Care parents for the time being because if there was going to be an adoption, we felt like it should be them. We already have full custody of our first Grandson that is now 10 years old and is a special needs child(not drug related) so our hands are quite full. My Daughters case worker told me to go down to the court and file a petition to have the baby turned back over to the state and she would get it done. The next morning I took the baby and off we went to do that but it wasn’t meant to be. I was told that my Husband had to be there to sign as well after I was told by the caseworker he did not have to be there. I explained very clearly what my intentions were being there but apparently she could not wrap her small brain process around what I was saying. Next thing I knew a CPS woman was in my face and the first thing she said was,” We are going to open an investigation on you”. She said so they could come to my house and see how they could help! I told her I did not need their help and was not there seeking help. No petition got filed and the baby and I came home. We were home 20 minutes and the phone rang with a woman telling me I was to bring the baby down to their office immediately to the CPS office without delay. I knew right then that this was a “set up” and I was witnessing a true baby steal. When we got there a young woman came out and said they had a report come in from the court saying I was “rough-housing” the baby in the waiting room. I told her that was an outright LIE from the pit of hell but that did not matter. They took us back to a room and started questioning me about everything, took the baby out to examine him for abuse and found nothing. They said the Judge was out for two weeks and would I keep the baby for that amount of time. I said” Certainly and possibly forever too”. Those were the only two options I had given the caseworker. Either he goes back to the original foster family or he stays with us. I did not want my Grandson kicked around to different homes. The caseworker could have stopped all these events happening because she knew what my intentions were but instead to further their “baby steal” plan they needed to get CPS involved. The writing was on the wall ! The baby and I came home and six days later, not two weeks, another call came in telling me to bring the baby down with anything I wanted to send with him. I was so confused as to what was happening but was told to be there within an hour. I did as they said and no one(foster mother nor caseworker) contacted me to tell me the location of my Grandson. Through the state attorney we did find out he was returned to the original foster family. She called me, the attorney, knowing I was over the top in anger at how all this went down. I was called unstable and a child abuser without cause so I had every right to be angry. She simply kept trying to sweep everything under the rug calling it all miscommunication. Their folder for “miscommunication” is now five inches thick! That word somehow solves their crimes. We go back to court on June 15th and I am at a loss as to what to do. My Daughter should have her Son returned to her as the punishment does not fit the crime. The bar they have raised is just too much for any single parent to meet and they know it ! My Husband and I do not feel like we have the time left to raise another Grandchild. Our hearts bleed wanting to but reality says no.. This has been a “baby steal” from the starting line. Feeling used and abused and not sure my Daughter will survive this. BeKura W. Shabazz??Love your comment!

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