DCF cleared of criminal wrongdoing in Vt. toddler's death - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

DCF cleared of criminal wrongdoing in Vt. toddler's death

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BURLINGTON, Vt. - New developments in the death of a Poultney toddler-- Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell announced Wednesday that he found no criminal misconduct on the part of any individual involved in the handling and investigation of the Dezirae Sheldon case.

Dezirae Sheldon's stepfather, Dennis Duby, allegedly crushed the little girl's skull back in February and is being charged with second-degree murder. Prior to her death, Dezirae had been in the custody of the Department for Children and Families before-- after her mother, Sandra Eastman, pleaded guilty to child cruelty for failing to get Dezirae prompt medical care for a broken leg.* They were eventually reunited.

But the attorney general says after reviewing the Vermont State Police investigation into how the Department for Children and Families both investigated and reviewed the case, there will be no other criminal charges filed. Sorrell says he believes that every party involved in the case acted in what they thought was the best interest of Dezirae Sheldon at the time. But he did say that his review does indicate that changes need to be made to the system as a whole because mistakes were definitely made.

"There were those who were making important decisions about this child's well-being who didn't have the full story at the time they were making those decisions," said Bill Sorrell, D-Vt. Attorney General.

Sorrell highlights lack of communication between DCF, law enforcement and the court system, which he says needs to be changed. And he also hopes criminal laws will be looked at as situations often arise where children are injured and lack of evidence makes it difficult to bring charges. He also cites confidentiality laws as being a hindrance to certain abuse investigations.

Sorrell says there are multiple cases they will be looking at to see if criminal charges will be brought against those investigating them, including the case of a Winooski baby, Peighton Geraw, who died after a DCF worker visited his home and hour earlier.

*Editor's note: Authorities brought to our attention on June 26, 2014, that WCAX News previously reported Sandra Eastman was convicted of breaking Dezirae Sheldon's leg. That was incorrect. Eastman was convicted of child cruelty by medical neglect. We apologize for the error.

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