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DCF report highlights mishandling of Cape boy’s cases; Limited staffing, training noted

By Staff | Apr 4, 2008

A report was released Thursday by the Florida Department of Children and Families assessing how the department handled abuse reports of Joshua Jenkins, 6, who reportedly died as a result of injuries sustained from his stepfather, Phillipe Gayle.

Gayle, 26, of 912 S.E. 24th Ave., Apt. B, remains in the Lee County Jail charged with Jenkins’s murder and abusing the child.

Joshua sustained blunt force trauma to his lungs, bite marks, blood in his abdomen, a lacerated liver and genital injuries allegedly resulting from Gayle’s actions, an autopsy revealed.

He died Feb. 18 in a hospital pediatric ward as a result of the injuries, officials said.

The report, indicating mistakes made by DCF regarding multiple alleged incidents of abuse involving Joshua as well as recommendations for future reported incidents, was completed by Regional Family Safety Program Administrator Lisa Mayrose.

The report discusses the mishandling of three separate cases regarding Joshua and his parents.

The first case was opened in October 2006 after Joshua was observed to have bruises on his bicep and a bite mark on his ear. Joshua allegedly stated, “Daddy did it,” wrote Mayrose. The report indicates Joshua refers to Gayle as “daddy.”

Several other injuries are noted and an interview was conducted with Gayle and Joshua’s mother, Rebecca. The report states that the parents denied abusing Joshua and the case was later dropped.

Mayrose found that since the family had recently moved from Mississippi, a records request from the state was warranted but was not made.

A second case was opened in December 2006, alleging circular bruises around Joshua’s wrist when “dad” told the child to keep his hands to his side. It was also reported that “dad” had kicked him in his posterior and hit him in the chest and stomach. Child Protective Investigators noted bruises on Joshua’s stomach and developmental delays and speech impairment.

During an interview with Joshua and teachers, the boy again stated Gayle had hit him, according to the report. The Gayles were interviewed regarding the case and they denied abuse, giving multiple explanations of how Joshua had become injured. The Child Protection Team recommended that the couple be referred to a parenting discipline course and that Gayle undergo anger management.

According to Mayrose, the case was changed to a different investigator during the investigation and proper staffing did not occur. Additionally, no evidence is available that the Gayles underwent the recommended counseling and no follow-up was done.

The third case, which began in May 2007 and ended with Joshua’s death in February, was opened when Joshua allegedly had bruises to his arm, face and chest. The Gayles again denied abuse and were recommended to undergo counseling courses. No follow-up was done to ensure the couple had attended the courses, wrote Mayrose.

Several recommendations were made, including a “Red Flag” staffing system, consistent notification to law enforcement officers regarding suspected physical abuse and additional training for investigative employees.

The report indicates vacancy rates as a major area in need of improvement. According to the report, fifteen newly-trained employees have recently completed preservice training, with two vacancies remaining.