Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott

David E. Wilkins

March 26, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Terri Durdaller
DCF SunCoast Region Communications Director
(813) 558-5531
False Reporting to DCF Abuse Hotline Carries Severe Penalties
~ Two sisters in Sarasota are serving jail time for false reporting ~

SARASOTA, FLA. – In August 2011, the Sarasota Police Department filed charges against Taiwandra Burks and Stacy Hendry for making a false report of child abuse to the Florida Abuse Hotline and this month both were sentence to jail.

"If we receive a report of serious abuse or neglect, our investigators must see the children within two hours," said Mike Carroll DCF Regional Managing Director. "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."

On March 16, 2012 Taiwandra Burks pled guilty to the charge of making a false report alleging that her 3 year-old was sexually abused and she was sentenced to nine months in jail. Her sister, Stacy Hendry, had lesser involvement in the incident and accepted a plea deal resulting in a sentence of 60 days in jail.

On August 8, 2011 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, 2011 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.

A false report is defined in ss. 39.01(27), as a report of abuse, neglect or abandonment of a child to the central abuse hotline in which the report 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 personal benefit for the reporting person in any other private dispute involving a child.

To report suspected child abuse or neglect call 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).