The mother-daughter talk was meant to prepare the 4-year-old child for elementary school.
“If anybody touches you where they’re not supposed to, you have to let me know,” the Fort Worth mother of three daughters said that day in August 2006.
The mother said she was shocked when the girl responded that “Tata” — that’s what the children called their father — touches her in the front and back.
Soon, in an interview with Child Protective Services, the woman’s 6-year-old daughter would also claim that she, too, was being molested by her father.
“Somebody had asked my older daughter, ‘Do you think he’s already touched the little one?,’ ” the mother said, referring to the girls’ 2-year-old sister. “She was like, ‘No, she’s too little right now, but maybe when she’s older.’ ”
She said her husband called her “stupid” and “crazy” for believing he’d do such a thing, but she kicked him out of the house as CPS had ordered.
When more than a year had passed — with no arrest made by Fort Worth police — the mother said she began to wonder if maybe he had been telling the truth.
So she let him return home.
Now — 10 years after the father was first accused — the youngest daughter is also alleging that he repeatedly sexually abused her, beginning when the now 12-year-old girl was just 4.
Neither the mother nor father is being identified to protect the identity of the children.
“I wish something would have been done,” the mother said regarding the 2006 case. “Nothing was.”
The father, 44, was recently arrested, and his case is raising concerns about the work of the Crimes Against Children detective assigned to the 2006 case. The detective’s body of work is under review, and the department will now begin auditing all investigative units to ensure that cases are being investigated in a “proactive and thorough manner,” said officer Daniel Segura, police spokesman.
Segura said a review of the 2006 case revealed it had not been “fully and completely investigated” and that authorities have uncovered other cases that required further investigation.
“Those cases have been reassigned to other detectives,” he said.
The involved detective, who had been with the Crimes Against Children unit about 14 years, has been reassigned to “administrative, non-investigative duties” pending an investigation by internal affairs, Segura said.
The Star-Telegram is not identifying the detective because he has not been disciplined. His attorney, Terry Daffron, declined to comment Friday because of the ongoing investigation.
In a statement to the Star-Telegram, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said, “It is our goal to instill confidence in victims of crime.”
“Victims trust that we actively, aggressively and professionally investigate cases and relentlessly pursue offenders so they are unable to commit further criminal activity,” Fitzgerald said. “When someone summons the courage to report an offense to the police, we expect our employees to provide professional, compassionate service to that victim, and fully investigate the case.”
‘Wormed his way back in’
The mother said the detective assigned to the 2006 case never called her after CPS filed a report with the Police Department.
She said she recalls once trying to reach someone at the Police Department to see what was happening with the case but never received a call back.
She described herself as “uneducated” back then, lacking a high school degree and job and struggling to raise the girls alone without their father, the family’s sole provider.
But she said if her husband had been arrested in 2006 — or even if police had told her that they believed the girls’ allegations — she would have never let him back into her home.
“Nobody said anything about it,” the mother said. “I think he was out of the house maybe a year and half … then he wormed his way back in.”
Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman with CPS, said the agency refers every report of alleged child abuse or neglect to the appropriate law enforcement agency “which is then responsible for investigating and filing criminal charges.”
Though she could not speak specifically to the 2006 case, she said CPS does put safety plans in place “to keep the children safe, both during the investigation and in the future — whether that be in their own home with protective adults, or in a placement outside their home.”
“CPS investigations are completed within 60 days,” Gonzales said. “In many cases, CPS will continue to follow up and provide services for a family in the months following an investigation's closure to ensure that children remain safe.”
The oldest daughter, now 16, told medical staff last month that she had told on her father when she was 6 but that nothing happened. She said he came back to live with the family when she was 7.
“The victim said that he started back touching her pretty fast after he moved back in,” Detective D. M. Savage wrote in the father’s arrest warrant affidavit.
The girl claimed the abuse continued until she was about 12, when she was big enough to fight back and threatened to tell her mother, according to the affidavit.
In late April, the youngest daughter confided to a friend at school that her father had been sexually abusing her. At the friend’s urging, the girl then told a school employee, leading to CPS being notified.
The mother said she was at work when she was called and told about her youngest daughter’s claims.
“I was in shock,” she said. “Then they’re saying she wants to hurt herself. She’s already had health issues, then to have this. I’m like, ‘This can’t be happening.’ ”
The mother said she quickly called her husband of more than 20 years and told him, “You need to get out of my house and now!”
He was arrested May 27 on three warrants accusing him of aggravated sexual assault of a child and continuous sexual abuse of a child in connection with his oldest and youngest daughters’ claims.
He is being held in the Tarrant County Jail with bail set at a combined $100,000.