By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Yamhill foster parents arrested on charges alleging child abuse; DHS places 3 workers on paid leave

John Yates
John Yates
Danielle Yates
Danielle Yates
Lois Day
Lois Day

UPDATED: 2 p.m. Friday, March 13

The state Department of Human Services has placed three employees of its child welfare program on paid administrative leave while the agency conducts a review of the Danielle and John Yates alleged child abuse case.

In addition, the DHS called in a Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) to conduct a formal review.

The CIRT is intended to identify systemic issues and areas for improvement in agency policies or actions when there is a serious injury or death caused by abuse or neglect involving a child who has had contact with the agency.

CIRT reports are public information, and once they are completed they are posted on the agency website.

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YAMHILL - A rural Yamhill couple was arrested Wednesday night by the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office on charges alleging they abused their foster children, a 5-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy.

Danielle Yvonne Yates, 31, and John Henry Yates, 42, who live north Yamhill, have been indicted by a grand jury on two counts each of first-degree assault, a Class A felony, and first-degree criminal mischief, a Class C felony.

The couple was arraigned on the indictment Thursday afternoon before Circuit Court Judge Ronald Stone.

First-degree assault is a Measure 11 offense punishable on conviction by a lengthy mandatory minimum prison sentence.

The indictment alleges the couple, "having assumed the care, custody and responsibility for the supervision of the child, did unlawfully and knowingly cause serious physical injury" to the child.

The couple, who was taken into custody at the sheriff's office by detectives Marc Brodeur and Kevin Gardner of the Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Unit, are each lodged in jail on $350,000 bail.

The case was handled by the Special Investigations Unit because of the age of the children and the complexity of the case, according to Sgt. Chris Ray.

State Department of Human Services Director Lois Ann Day announced through a statement that the agency has launched an investigation into the allegations.

"Nothing we do is more important than protecting children," she said. "When we see reports of injuries to children known to the agency, and when those injuries have been caused by abuse or neglect, we must respond quickly.":

She continued, "Therefore, I am announcing an immediate review of this case, which will be conducted in the next 24 hours, to look into the decisions and actions taken by DHS staff in Salem and in county offices."

Day said DHS personnel in Salem and in local offices will be placed on administrative leave while the investigation is conducted.

"The effects of child abuse are one of the most difficult things to see," Sheriff Tim Svenson said. "Detectives have to remain objective during the investigation to ensure the case is thoroughly examined."

Interviews, evidence and medical records led investigators to believe the Yates, who are the legal guardians, were not providing adequate nourishment or medical care to the children, according to Ray.

The children have lost weight over the four years they have been in the couple's custody. They spent one week hospitalized during the Christmas holidays after a relative discovered the children to be in poor health.

"The case was brought to the attention of law enforcement by a physician who saw the kids when they were brought to the hospital by the relative of the Yates," Ray said.

He added, "Doctors are mandatory reporters, and they contacted the sheriff's office. A majority of the investigation involved getting medical documentation to show what caused the malnourishment."

The children were removed from the Yates' custody once the investigation began, and the state Department of Human Services has since placed them with a biological relative, according to Ray.

"The end result (of child abuse cases) is too important, especially when the victims can't advocate for themselves," Svenson said.

Anyone with information about this case should contact Brodeur at 503-434-7506.





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