Society

State Of North Carolina Accused Of Ignoring Child Abuse Allegations Against Own Employee, Wanda Sue Larson

| by Kathryn Schroeder

The State of North Carolina has been accused of ignoring child abuse by one of the state's own employees, Wanda Sue Larson, a Department of Social Services supervisor in Monroe, Union County, and her partner Dorian Harper, an emergency room nurse.

Last month Wanda Sue Larson and Dorian Harper were arrested when an 11-year-old boy they were guardian's of was found handcuffed to a porch with a dead chicken around his neck, as reported by WITN. The indictment also includes other abuse towards the boy in their care, including chaining him to a piece of railroad track in his room, Harper cutting the boys face with a knife, and using an electric wire to burn his face.

Bob Goodale, a former corporate executive and deputy secretary of the state Department of Commerce, reported the possible abuse to state officials more than a year ago and is appalled by the allegations, according to WRAL. His daughter is a teacher at the boy's school, Union Academy Charter School in Monroe, and she came to him for help due to his ties in state government.

Speaking with WRAL, Goodale's daughter said the "boy and the other children living with Larson and Harper were continually dirty and hungry, and [teachers] worried about child neglect, especially after the children were pulled out of Union Academy to be home-schooled," and "Teachers didn't know where to turn, she said, because Larson worked in the Union County DSS office."

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An email chain has been found containing evidence that the state Division of Social Services knew about the Union County case, but there is no proof they ever followed up with the the concerned Union Academy teachers, reports WRAL.

The county Department of Social Services spokeswoman Julie Henry wrote an email to WRAL addressing the accusations against the state ignoring the abuse case. Henry writes, "By law, the county Department of Social Services is the agency that has the authority to accept and screen child protective service reports. It is protocol for the state to refer any reports of abuse to the county DSS office...We encourage anyone to reach out to their county Department of Social Services if they suspect that a child is being abused or neglected."

The problem in this case is that the abuser in question was a DSS employee.

State officials have since agreed to review how adoptions, foster care assignments, and child protection cases are handled by employees while child advocacy groups are calling for outside groups, like the state Attorney General's Office, to investigate.

Larson and Harper remain in jail, awaiting trial, and the boy in question, as well as the three others who were under Larson and Harper's care, have been removed from the home and are in the custody of the Davidson County Division of Social Services.