I-TEAM: DFCS hearing sheds new light in death of toddler
Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7
AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- A hearing between Lincoln Davitte's mother and the Department of Family and Children Services has shed new light into toddler's death.
Did DFCS do its best job investigating an anonymous tip about Lincoln before he died? We wanted to know and asked to be allowed into a hearing between DFCS and Lincoln's mother, Chelsea Finch. DFCS fought to keep us out, but a judge agreed with us, saying that the death of this little boy was in the public's interest.
It’s not every day that our attorney and news director go to court.
Judge Doug Flanagan granted the I-Team access to a DFCS hearing with Finch earlier this summer.
The I-Team wanted access to this hearing to find out whether DFCS missed or ignored possible warning signs of abuse before his death.
“Is WRDW making this request for an open hearing to investigate DFCS,” the DFCS attorney said. “It’s believed by DFCS that the coverage of this child's case by the media is a pretext as to the real purpose of the media's request is to conduct a fishing expedition to monitor DFCS performance."
How DFCS performed is exactly what the I-Team wanted to investigate.
"Every person, every parent, every teacher in this county should have the ability to know and understand how these investigations are taking place and what transpired prior to us reaching this point,” our attorney said.
"The court also agrees in the first amendment that the public needs to know,” Judge Flanagan said.
So, at the next hearing, to decide if Finch would get custody back of her daughter, a social worker testified on behalf of DFCS.
"Does the family have any prior DFCS history?” Finch’s attorney asked.
"Yes, we do have history,” the case worker said. “The agency had a case back March 24, 2019.”
"Yes, he had two sets of black eyes,” the case worker said. “One, he was with the maternal side and one happened at home."
"What was the date of the other incident? I wasn't aware of it,” Finch’s attorney said.
"I don't have a date,” the case worker said.
"But you are confident there were two incidents?" Finch’s attorney said.
“It was two,” the case worker said. “Yes, it was."
A case worker concluded no safety concerns at the time and closed the case. Just six weeks later, Lincoln died.
Investigators charged Sconyers with murder.
"Is the department aware that at least up until a week ago Mrs. Finch has been in daily telephonic communications with Mr. Sconyers at the jail?" Finch’s attorney said.
"No, sir,” the case worker said.
"If you knew, that would that change the position of the department?" Finch’s attorney said.
"Yes,” the case worker said. “That would.”
In that hearing, a judge decided Finch would not regain custody of her young daughter during the investigation into Lincoln's death.
She did not want to talk to us. We also reached out to the Sconyers family, who tell us they've been advised by their attorney not to talk.