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Press Release

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State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott
Governor

David E. Wilkins
Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2011
MEDIA CONTACT:
Erin Gillespie (239) 243-4299

TWO ARRESTED FOR FALSELY REPORTING CHILD ABUSE
~ DCF, Sarasota Police Department join forces to combat false reporting~

SARASOTA – The Sarasota Police Department arrested two local parents recently for falsely reporting child abuse to the state's abuse hotline. The Florida Department of Children and Families submitted this information to law enforcement after being concerned in both cases that the state hotline was being used inappropriately.

On August 8, Taiwandra Burks, 32, and Stacey Hendry, 30, were arrested and charged with Making a False Report of Child Abuse and other charges. This was a direct result of information gathered by DCF during an investigation into alleged sexual abuse of a child. The investigation showed no evidence to substantiate the allegations, and our agency reported this possible false allegation to the state attorney's office and the police department.

On August 16, Lisa Ann Schinnow, 48, was arrested and charged with Making Fraudulent Department of Children and Families Reports and other charges. At least three separate reports had been called in by Schinnow involving allegations concerning her young son and her ex-husband, who had been awarded sole custody of the child. When no evidence of abuse or neglect was found during these investigations, DCF became concerned that the calls were false allegations because of the custody situation.

Each false allegation called in to the state hotline must be investigated thoroughly to ensure a child is not being left at-risk. False allegations waste the precious time and resources of our agency's child protective investigators, who are investigating thousands of legitimate cases of child abuse and neglect each month.

According to Florida Statutes, any person who knowingly and willfully makes a false report or counsels another to make a false report is guilty of a felony of the third degree punishable by up to five years in prison. Each time that a false report is made constitutes a separate violation.

A false report is a report of child abuse, neglect or abandonment or adult abuse, neglect or exploitation that is made to the central abuse hotline which is not true and is maliciously made for the purpose of: harassing, embarrassing, or harming another person; personal financial gain for the reporting person; acquiring custody of a child or vulnerable adult; or personal benefit for the reporting person in any other private dispute involving a child or vulnerable adult.

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