Northumberland County Children and Youth leader says all documents turned over in abuse probe

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Sep. 18—SUNBURY — A search warrant filed by state police and granted by a district judge for documents in the Northumberland County Children and Youth agency concerning an alleged case had to be filed, according to the department's leader.

Katrina Gownley said policies and procedures blocked her office from providing information to state police about an alleged abuse case.

"We don't give information out willy nilly," she said. "We provided the trooper with what we could."

The search warrant was filed by Stonington state police trooper and crime unit member Josiah Reiner and was granted on Sept. 8, by Sunbury District Judge Mike Toomey. According to Reiner, police requested multiple documents from the county agency but his requests went unanswered.

State troopers, the district attorney's office, and Children and Youth officials do not comment on any pending investigations and Northumberland County Commissioner Joe Klebon, who is in charge of children and youth, said he was looking into the situation.

"We are reviewing policies and procedures," he said. "I understand we just don't give things out."

The warrant came after Stonington state police received a report of a child abuse case in June and requested an official investigation into the claims. In July, the warrant states Reiner requested a forensic interview be conducted but the trooper was informed by the county agency that it would not allow the interview because the report was "only dealing with alleged physical abuse which will be unfolding."

Gownley said an interview could have taken place. It was up to state police, she said.

Later in July, the trooper spoke with a relative of the alleged victim who told police multiple incidents have been reported to the county agency and nothing was done. According to the search warrant, all reports had been listed as unfounded.

The trooper said he viewed pictures that showed multiple dark blue and yellowing bruises on a child's lower back, upper arm and ribs on the right side, the warrant stated.

Reiner spoke with another relative of the child who told the trooper he took pictures of the injuries and reported the incident to Children and Youth, the warrant said. The relative told the trooper Children and Youth officials told him the child's face was not in the pictures and the pictures had no time-stamp so he would not be able to prove when the pictures were taken, the warrant stated.

Reiner requested the additional reports on July 13. He explained to Children and Youth officials he was investigating the case and it appeared there was a consistent course of conduct involving abuse, according to court documents. Ten days later, Reiner received an email from county officials briefly outlining a history incident involving the alleged victim beginning in April 2018, the warrant stated.

Reiner said he later requested the previous reports pertaining to the alleged victim's case but received no reply from the county agency, according to the warrant.

Reiner eventually contacted the Northumberland County District Attorney's Office and one of the assistant district attorneys reached out to the county agency requesting the documents and asking if the agency wanted a search warrant, according to court documents.

On Aug. 8, the warrant states the district attorney's office received a response saying the trooper was already provided a report from a February incident and that "there is really nothing more we can provide him." Reiner received a report from March and he again asked for all other reports from April 2018 through October 2019. On Aug. 17, an official with Children and Youth sent an email with a brief outline of the separate incidents pertaining to the alleged victim but the trooper said he received no official documentation or reports, according to the warrant.

On Aug. 19, Reiner once again requested the reports, but as of Sept. 7, the date the warrant was requested to be issued by Toomey, no documentation was provided.

"Once we turned over what we could I think the misunderstanding came because we wanted the warrant for the rest because of our policies and procedures," Gownley said.

Gownley said she spoke to her supervisor handling the case and children and youth solicitor Ann Targonski and all agreed the warrant was the best option.

"Everything has since been turned over," Gownley said. "We don't discuss any cases as our number one priority is protecting a person's privacy."

No return warrant, which would list what was taken from the county agency, was issued to Toomey and no one has been charged yet in the alleged abuse case.

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