1/25/14: Poloncarz Administration and Erie County Department of Social Services Deny Existence of Prior Abuse Reports

Modified: January 23, 2015 2:58pm

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ERIE COUNTY, NY— The administration of Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz today released the following statement pursuant to erroneous published reports regarding CPS contacts in the recent death of Mayouna Smith:

“A horrible and brutal tragedy occurred last weekend with the murder of three-year old Mayouna Smith. It is saddening that the family that should have cared for and protected this child did not do so, with results that grieve our community. Two investigations are currently being conducted regarding the death; one by the Amherst Police Department in coordination with the District Attorney and another by the Erie County Department of Child Protective Services (“CPS”).

Erie County emphatically and categorically denies published reports that CPS had received allegations of physical abuse against Mayouna Smith, which include but are not limited to allegations of beatings, lacerations, welts, and bruises. This denial follows a careful review of all available CPS records that found no evidence of a report from the NY State Central Registry or any other evidence or report of prior physical abuse against Mayouna Smith.

Erie County CPS officials and other members of the administration have been working around the clock since this matter was brought to our attention, including working with the Amherst PD to see that the perpetrator or perpetrators of this crime are apprehended. The full weight of the justice system must be brought to bear against any individual who is capable of a crime of this nature. Criminal acts against the most vulnerable in our society must be punished to the full extent the law allows.

In the week since Mayouna’s death a one-month old child, erroneously identified as a one-year old in media reports, has been removed from the household and placed in foster care while another child with connections to the individuals named in this case has been visited to ensure their safety.

Over the past two years Erie County has embarked on a long-term course of action to proactively address the issues of child abuse, neglect, and poverty in our community. Additional funding for more CPS workers, a reorganization of the Department of Social Services, and a new collaboration with the Buffalo Public Schools have already been completed. In the near future we will be announcing new partnerships that will place CPS workers in locations that will provide early warning about families. Other initiatives will follow.

Uncorroborated hearsay and baseless allegations are corrosive, dangerous, and counterproductive not only to the ongoing investigations but also to the larger, protective mission of CPS. We will continue to work to uncover the source of falsehoods being disseminated to local media to stop this harmful practice.

We ask the public and other public officials not to rush to judgment. While we do not know why individuals would knowingly pass false information to media outlets, we do know that there can be no good reason for it. We are confident that when the NYS Office of Child & Family Services completes the fatality report for this case, the facts will emerge. We encourage NYS to make the results of that report public.”