I-TEAM: Did DFCS drop the ball in the case of a 2-year-old allegedly murdered by his mother’s boyfriend?

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Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

Lincoln Davitte died earlier this year, but did DFCS do enough to try and prevent his death? (Source: Davitte Family)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – Who failed Lincoln Davitte?

The 2-year-old was allegedly murdered five months ago even as his teachers reported signs of abuse to the state weeks before his death.

Lincoln's daycare teachers say they reported bruises, black eyes, and rashes to the daycare director but nothing was done.

They called the Department of Family and Children Services themselves when he came to school a second time with a black eye, but no safety concerns were found.

His teachers believe had DFCS talked to them, Lincoln might still be alive.

Lincoln’s big brown eyes were unforgettable, but so were his bruises.

“Pinch marks on his cheek, pinch marks on his thighs, he had a hand print on his back, he had whelp rashes down his back -- like blood blisters rashes all over him at all times,” Lincoln’s teacher, Jessica Oster, said.

Oster says she noticed the bruises on day one at a child's world. She and others at the daycare tell us they logged each and every bruise.

The state requires daycares to create a policy on how to handle indications of possible abuse.

“When you are in a classroom and there is an incident that happens, you have to log it; you have to put it down just in case something happens,” Oster said.

“Anytime I changed Lincoln’s diaper, I would mark down any new bruises I saw on him.”

Oster and other daycare workers tell us they shared their concerns with the daycare director.

"I don't think the director ever called anybody,” Oster said. “I don't even think she made any reports."

Just last year, the state revoked the daycare's license due to violations at the center. Their license was reinstated after they paid a fine.

"We made an anonymous call to cps ourselves,” Oster said.

Oster says she and another teacher made that call to Child Protective Services in mid-March after Lincoln came to the daycare for the second time in three weeks with a black eye.

Still, Oster says no one came to speak with her.

According to Lincoln’s case file with DFCS, the caller stated seeing two black eyes on the toddler, then two weeks later, there was another black eye. The caller also said she told her director. She said the director told her she didn't report the bruises to DFCS.

DFACS Report Watermarked by WRDW Digital on Scribd

We left messages with the daycare director and the owner of A Child's World. Nobody returned our calls.

Oster, meanwhile, thinks Lincoln could still be alive if DFCS had spoken to her.

"I think so,” Oster said. “I think if they had actually looked a little deeper and paid a bit more attention to it they may have been able to stop something from happening."

Lincoln died six weeks after DFCS closed his case. The case worker never interviewed Lincoln's teachers.

Charles Sconyers, Lincoln's mother's boyfriend, is charged with his murder.

We took our questions to Tom Rawlings, the director of Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services.

He doesn’t feel like his department dropped the ball on this case.

"I reviewed this case thoroughly, and I think this is one of those cases that shows even when our team, our workers go and do the best job they can under the circumstances, they do high quality work,” Rawlings said.

Did DFCS do its best job? Our I-Team wanted to know and asked to be allowed into a hearing between DFCS and Lincoln's mother. DFCS did not want us there. We fought it.

"The public has a right to know what transcribed to get to this point, what kind of investigations DFCS was involved in, and why they made the decisions that they did,” WRDW's attorney said.

"Is WRDW making this request for an open hearing to investigate DFCS? It's the belief of DFCS that this coverage of this child's case by the media is a pretext to the real purpose of the media requests to conduct a fishing expedition to monitor DFCS performance in the courtroom and use these proceedings as an investigative tool,” DFCS’s attorney rebutted.

The I-Team did want to investigate. The judge ruled in our favor. In a later hearing between DFCS and Lincoln's mother, a case worker testified about the allegations of abuse.

"Allegations where he had two black eyes, case manager -- she assessed the home,” the case worker said. “There was no findings and her case was closed."

"We had a mother and a boyfriend in the home that both appeared to us as reasonable credible people,” Rawlings said.

Lincoln's mother works for an ambulance services. Sconyers worked as a firefighter.

"I think the dilemma we had, we were in a situation where there was an injury. The injury was described by both of the adults and the other child in the home as being accidental,” Rawlings said. “We didn't have any evidence at that time that it was anything other than accidental."

The case worker may have found evidence like a possible log documenting bruises or a picture taken by Lincoln’s teachers had she interviewed them.

Oster is now haunted by the case.

“Every day,” Oster said. “It haunts me every day because I wish I could have done something more."

Nothing will bring Lincoln back, but Oster hopes his story will save others.

"That it stops. That DFCS steps in further in a situation like this. That they actually take the time and dig deeper,” Oster said.

Sconyers is out on bond awaiting trial. He and Lincoln's mother tell us their attorneys have advised them not to talk to us.

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