By Joseph Snook | Investigative Reporter | US Observer
What would you think about a 4-year-old child who, when you wanted to take them to a relative's home, became so outspoken in not wanting to go, and so visibly agitated that they wet themselves? Would you think there was a real problem; perhaps a dangerous problem? Or, would your first inclination be that the child must have been coached? Unfortunately, for one child and her Mother that is exactly the position Department of Human Services (DHS) employee Cori McGovern has taken by asserting the mother introduced the ideas into her own child. By taking this position, DHS has taken the child from her mother and placed her with the girl's father, the exact person the girl so vehemently acted out against being around. It begs the question, how is it that some abused children get lost in the system that is supposed to protect them and wind up being more damaged? One thing is certain, that is exactly what has happened in this nightmare of a case.
Gabriel and Christi with their other daughter © US~Observer
On December 19, 2016 Christi MacLaren, her husband Gabriel, and her parents attended a hearing before Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Grensky regarding Christi's 6-year-old daughter. The hearing was set because the biological father, Sean Lenzo, was not allowing or adhering to a previous order, essentially preventing the grandparents from seeing the child. Also, the step-father was previously told not to see his own step-child because Lenzo claimed the step-father was a danger to the young girl. Lenzo alleged that the step-father domestically abused Christi, although he offered no factual evidence to support the assertion other than a supposed phone call he claims to have received from Christi, which she adamantly denied while testifying under oath.
In fact, 38-year-old Gabriel has no criminal convictions EVER, nor any record of domestic abuse whatsoever. Gabriel was a youth group counselor at his church, and has previously worked with the Oregon Youth Authority requiring extensive background checks to be passed before he could be around children. The Judge sided with Christi, her parents and Gabriel, rightfully allowing visits until the trial date to establish custody is over.
Lenzo has allegedly sexually abused his daughter which is what started this nightmare. Lenzo won custody of the young girl on May 19, 2016 after DHS caseworker Cori McGovern claimed that Christi had coached her daughter to say things that were not true about Lenzo. Despite reports from medical experts who claimed the daughter should not be around Lenzo - even with supervision, DHS Caseworker Cori McGovern's unsupported conclusion created a nightmare for Christi MacLaren and her family. Apparently certified experts, doctors, etc., are no match for a seemingly rogue DHS employee.
DHS Caseworker Cori McGovern has no professional capacity to diagnose or make claims of certainty involving abuse without relying upon professionals. Cori has previously been successfully sued for placing a young girl in the hands of child molesters. According to one Attorney who represented one of the victims of Cori McGovern, "DHS settled his client's case for a large sum of money." Instead of being fired for previous actions, DHS simply transferred Cori to another office in a nearby town. Today, Cori is doing the exact same thing to another young girl, Christi's daughter.
“Cori McGovern (DHS) has previously been successfully sued
for placing a young girl in the hands of child molesters” -- Witness
According to records, In the Spring of 2015, Christi MacLaren was initially told by her daughter (then four-years-old) that Sean Lenzo had rubbed, "magic cream" on her vagina in a really fast motion until bleeding occurred. Next, the young girl claimed Lenzo took a picture of her vagina while it was bleeding, eventually showing her the photo as he laughed. In shock, Christi immediately contacted several professionals that very day. Her main concern was her daughter's safety and seeking help.
"I don't want to be with him!" -- Daughter
Signs of sexual abuse were witnessed by several people; one being a pre-school principal who stated she heard the young child scream, "I don't want to be with him" (Lenzo) as the little girl urinated on herself. Claims of self harming by the young girl were also investigated and confirmed by people other than the mother. According to many professionals, these actions are severe symptoms of sexual abuse.
"I recommend all contact (daughet and father)
stop immediately, including supervised visits."
--Victoria Bones, Licensed Clinincal Social Worker
Another professional, Victoria Bones, a court appointed expert licensed clinical social worker found that, "It is highly unlikely that the child could react the way she does so consistently and repeatedly" if she had been coached. Bones continued, "I recommend all contact (daughter and Lenzo) stop immediately, including supervised visits." Bones finished by saying, "to force (child) to continue to have contact with her father is re-traumatizing her in my opinion." Bones met several times with the young girl. Judge Grensky has never heard this evidence due to the actions of DHS forcing a settlement without a trial.
"Christi MacLaren is a 40-year-old, bright, well educated, married, mother
of two who displays no evidence of a mental defect." --Dr. Jerry Larson M.D. Psychiatrist
Another professional, Dr. Jerry Larson M.D. Psychiatrist stated, "Christi MacLaren is a 40-year-old, bright, well educated, married, mother of two who displays no evidence of a mental defect." Dr. Larson continued, "I find the DHS (Cori McGovern) action puzzling at best."
Other experts found disgusting examples of abuse by Sean Lenzo, to put it mildly. Some of the reports are too intense to describe, yet Cori McGovern didn't only disbelieve Christi, she has essentially not believed any of the experts - professionals who are highly educated and have the ability to diagnose, whereas McGovern does not.
At the hearing on Dec. 19th, Attorneys for both parties began litigating intently. Judge Grensky showed a deep concern to want this case resolved - fast. After previously stating he did not want to hear expert witness testimony, and that he wanted the parents to "work things out", Grensky did an abrupt 180 degree turn from his previous actions in the case. Thankfully he finally took this case as serious as he should have nearly eight months ago.
Lenzo's attorney, Jamie Hazlett began questioning Gabriel, the step-father, drilling him over and over again, unnecessarily. Judge Grensky stepped in and stated, "Ms. Hazlett I'm going to be frank with you. Why is that every time we have a problem with a judgment you're on one end of it. Why is that? I don't understand, but It's always you." Hazlett responded, "Alright well that may be your take on it..." Judge Grensky replied, "It is my take on it."
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Cori McGovern (DHS) © US~Observer
After DHS Caseworker Cori McGovern got on the witness stand, Judge Grensky stated to her, "let me be succinct... Now that it looks like that (daughter being kept from mother) may go down the drain, you're not so happy anymore. That's the bottom line, right?
McGovern responded, "It is our (DHS) belief that [the daughter's] behaviors were caused by mother." McGovern continued, "That she (Christi) influenced, that she coached the child and that (child's) behaviors - the self harming, the unrealistic fear of her father, that those were being driven by her mother."
Basically, McGovern said that if Christi sees her daughter unsupervised, that DHS will take custody of the young girl and put her in foster care. Remember, several professionals who have the ability to diagnose, disagree with Cori McGovern and DHS. These are experts that have not been able to testify in front of Judge Grensky. Considering this line of questioning by the Judge, it appears that he has finally taken a keen interest in what should rightfully be done.
"...A review was held and it was decided that there
is not reasonable cause to believe that
you (Christi) are responsible for the
mental injury of (your daughter)." --DHS
How can Cori McGovern declare that the mother is the cause of abuse when Cori's own superiors issued a letter dated Sept. 23, 2016 that read in part, "...A review was held and it was decided that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you (Christi) are responsible for the mental injury of (your daughter)." Furthermore, once the letter was written, how is it that McGovern could continue to make these claims against Christi? Is there no chain of command at DHS? Or, do caseworkers get to do anything they want without accountability?
According to McGovern herself, the case DHS had against Christi was closed in April of 2016, five months before her superiors took action at the request of Christi's attorney Samantha Malloy. So, the question remains, how can Cori McGovern be allowed to testify under oath that Christi is an abuser while Cori's own superior, Greg Thomas from Salem, OR., states there is no proof Christi caused abuse?
Christi MacLaren had already taken one mental health evaluation which she passed, but DHS' Cori McGovern wasn't willing to accept that report. Instead, Cori, along with Lenzo's attorney Jamie Hazlett, pushed for a court order to force Christi to choose one of two "DHS approved" mental health evaluators. Christi, at the advice of her attorney Samantha Malloy, chose Dr. O'Connell - the doctor DHS wanted. Christi had no funds to pay for the mental health evaluation as she had been fired from her previous place of employment because of the "founded abuse" report that Cori McGovern had previously made. Christi's employer was forced to fire her due to insurance liability, preventing Christi from having an income and leaving her scraping to get by with the bare essentials. Eventually, Christi was able save enough to pay for the $1,400.00 exam that took several days to complete. The report from Dr. O'Connell was finally produced just before the Dec. 19th hearing. The result: Christ is a satisfactory parent.
Although Christi has now passed two mental health evaluations, DHS' Cori McGovern was still not satisfied, claiming on the witness stand that she hadn't seen it yet, insinuating that she would not accept it because she wasn't able to talk with the Doctor even though the court had already agreed that any communication from anyone regarding the exam would have to be done in writing, as part of the record. Cori McGovern apparently didn't want to communicate on the record. Did Cori want to pressure the doctor to give a fraudulent report that bolstered Cori's ill conceived agenda?
Furthermore, Christi has no criminal record while the biological father has an extensive one, reportedly including three felonies. According to one witness, two of the felonies were dismissed through a plea deal, and another felony conviction in California simply just disappeared. Could DHS have a hand it that? According to Lenzo's Facebook page, he now has a gun which has caused much more fear for Christi and her family. Christi had a previous restraining order against Lenzo because he threatened harm to her, and her parents.
"If Sean Lenzo has been convicted of felony drug charges,
it would be next to impossible for him to ever possess a firearm." --Law Enforcement Officer
One law enforcement professional stated that, "If Sean Lenzo has been convicted of felony drug charges, it would be next to impossible for him to ever possess a firearm." Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case in this instance.
Backing up to the May 19th hearing, Judge Grensky stated to Christi, after not allowing expert testimony, "All of this is going to be on you (Christi). We're not gonna be sitting there monitoring every single step of the way." The Judge ended his statement by saying, "I don't tell DHS what to do." Although the Judge's tone at the recent hearing purportedly leads one to believe he is finally doing the right thing, his prior statement that he doesn't tell DHS what to do is what has terrified Christi MacLaren beyond belief. She's concerned that the Judge's power is not enough to protect her, or her daughter because of the continuous threats by DHS. Will DHS steal her daughter again if the Judge rightfully gives her custody? It's all been but guaranteed according to Cori McGovern.
A trial to determine custody of Chriti and Lenzo's daughter is scheduled for January 11-12, 2017 at the Jackson County Courthouse.Christi has spent approximately $37,000.00 in the past two years attempting to protect her daughter. If you can support Christi, we humbly ask that you donate to her gofundme account. Attorney bills are piling high and every cent contributed will be graciously appreciated.
Again, please give even the smallest amount. Christi's family is in desperate need.
If you have any information regarding anyone involved in this article, the US~Observer asks that you contact us immediately. Your information will be kept confidential upon request. You may reach out by going to www.usobserver.com, or emailing: [email protected], or calling 541-474-7885. Any information provided is greatly appreciated.
Click here to read our previous article on this case.
UPDATE: On the evening of December 21st, 2016 the US~Observer received a call from a blocked number. The caller asked, “Why are you pushing on Cori MacGovern?” When asked to identify himself the caller stated, “It doesn't matter.” The caller was told that we wouldn't talk to him unless he identified himself to which he responded, “okay, I'll have to come see you in person, if that's the way you want it.”
It appears Cori MacGovern doesn't just like to throw her weight around in cases where children are involved. It is more likely than not that she had this "stranger" call to try to intimidate us. We will not be intimidated, and it just made our resolve even greater.
The US~Observer stands on the side of the truth and is backed by experts involved in this case.