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State not sharing details on involvement in child abuse case

By Jessica Arp, jarp@wisctv.com
Published On: Oct 29 2013 06:29:36 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 29 2013 08:39:37 PM CDT

Brayden Turnbill, 5

MADISON, Wis. -

The state is still offering no comments on how or if county child protective services departments may have been involved with a family before the death of a 5-year-old.

Family members have told WISC-TV that Child Protective Services may have been involved with the family of 5-year-old Brayden Turnbill in more than one county.

Turnbill was taken from the Sun Prairie home he was living in to a hospital a week ago with injuries from alleged child abuse, and he later died of those injuries. His mother's boyfriend is now the named suspect in the homicide by Sun Prairie police.

Thus far, Dane and Green county human services officials have referred questions about any CPS involvement to the state Department of Children and Families. But family members tell us there was contact, both in connection to custody issues and sexual assault allegations against Brayden's father, Anthony Turnbill.

Speaking after his court appearance on sexual assault charges, Turnbill told WISC-TV Monday that he'd had contact with CPS about his son.

"They'll see that I tried getting Brayden, see that there are CPS reports," said Turnbill. "A CPS report in Green County, I was told somebody had found, that I had called and made reports to try to get my son."

Turnbill also said the Dane County Sheriff's Department was informed of abuse. A spokeswoman for the department said two contacts last year dealt with custody issues, not reports of child endangerment.

But a family member of Turnbill's estranged wife said CPS was also involved with the family this month.

"When all this was reported in regard to the sexual assault we did ask child protective services to go and check on the other little boy and to the best of my knowledge we don't believe that was done," said Debi Eveland, a relative of Brayden's. "I don't know if that would have stopped anything but it is a tragedy that something wasn't checked on."

WISC-TV has been unable to confirm these reports with Dane or Green counties or the Department of Children and Families. The department released a statement after our requests saying they "understand the public's interest in getting more information about this case; however, due to confidentiality issues, the Department of Children and Families cannot provide any further details at this time."

But the department has provided details of this kind before, sharing details on contacts CPS had with Chad and Melinda Chritton before a teenage girl was removed from their home after allegations of starvation and abuse. In response to differences in that early 2012 case, the department tells us only they were "correcting inaccurate information" on the case.

The only disclosure the state has made is the public posting of an egregious incident report on their website that says a 5-year-old male suffered serious injury on Oct. 22 in his home and the Department of Safety and Permanence will be doing a 90-day review of the case.

That review is supposed to be made public once it is complete, but if any police agency, district attorney or judge asks for it to be sealed, it could be. That's exactly what happened in the Chritton case. Twenty months later, that report on what went right or wrong with CPS involvement remains sealed.

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