Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Roy Dumar & Civil Rights in Montgomery County

Even though Roy Dumar appeared on the front page of The Daily Gazette on the same day as Rosa Parks (November 3), he is an unlikely civil rights hero. Nevertheless, this former justice of the Town of Mohawk in Montgomery County won a small battle recently in the war to protect the rights of people who have been falsely accused of child abuse. Dumar’s victory came about when a jury sided with him in a defamation lawsuit against his wife’s ex-husband, Thomas W. Fudger. The jury clearly believed Fudger was fudging when he accused Dumar of sexually molesting a child of Fudger’s. An investigation by Child Protective Services also failed to find any basis for Fudger’s accusations.

What makes Dumar’s case important is that very few people who are falsely accused of abusing children ever receive full justice, even though falsely reporting child abuse is a crime. According to statistics provided by New York State to the United States Department of Health and Human Services in 2002, there were 155,678 reports of child abuse in New York that year. 107,859 reports or almost 70% were found to have no substance.

New York State chose not to report any cases of intentionally false reports to the federal government in 2002 while Illinois reported 3,772 such cases. If Illinois with a population of 14.5 million reported almost 4,000 cases of intentionally false reports that year, then we must assume that New York with a population of almost 19 million must have had many more. Furthermore, most of the 107, 859 unsubstantiated reports in New York must be considered false as well, even if made by people with good intentions.

Even though almost 70% of the child abuse reports in New York are unsubstantiated and even though making false child abuse reports is a crime, rarely does anyone get arrested for filing false reports. Let me suggest some reasons why.

First, if you are falsely accused of child abuse or neglect, you have to know the name of your accuser before you can sue or bring charges against him or her. Almost all accusations made against people are done through a hotline and the name of the caller is kept confidential.


Secondly, while Child Protective Services is quick to move against you if you have been accused of abuse or neglect, they generally will not help you if you have been falsely accused, even though it is their duty to do so. According to NY State Social Services Law Section 424, Paragraph 8, Child Protective Services is to “refer suspected cases of falsely reporting child abuse and maltreatment in violation of subdivision three of section 240.55 of the penal law to the appropriate law enforcement agency or district attorney;” but it is rarely done. Generally, you have to go to your local D.A. and see if he or she will prosecute. Furthermore, falsely reporting child abuse is a misdemeanor, and if a D.A. has a heavy case load, it is not likely that he or she is going to take on yours.

Thirdly, many people who have been falsely accused and found innocent are too worn out from their ordeal to pursue the false accuser, and wonder if its worth it since the accuser will only receive a fine.

Finally, some child advocates don’t want to see people who file false reports prosecuted because they are afraid that it will frighten people into keeping silence about real abuse.

Dumar was fortunate in that he knew his accuser. He also was wise in that he didn’t go through the D.A. Instead he filed a suit against Fudger and the jury awarded him $1,000. This was only a small portion of the amount Dumar was seeking, nevertheless, it is still a victory for Dumar, whose goal was clearing his name, not obtaining money.

The question now is will Child Protective Services turn over information to the D.A. in order that Fudger be prosecuted for making a false report? The law allows for making a false report with good intentions, but it appears there is strong evidence that Fudger made the false report with malicious intention. According to The Daily Gazette article on Nov. 3, Mrs. Dumar testified in Mr. Dumar’s lawsuit that after she and Fudger separated in 2002, Fudger told her he was going to accuse Dumar of molesting their child.

It is important that Dumar won his lawsuit, but it is also important that Fudger be prosecuted. Why? Because valuable time and money was spent investigating a false report. Even with an extensive reporting and investigation system in place in our state, horrific child abuse still takes place. Child Protective Services often misses some of the worst cases (e. g. the scalding deaths of two boys in Westchester County recently while their parents were in a drug induced stupor). Could it be that the time spent on false reports is hindering investigators from dealing with real abuse?

As Dean Tong, a victim of false child abuse charges and now an expert witness in abuse cases, has said, “We will not win the war against child abuse, until we first win the battle against false accusations.”



2 Comments:

  • The notorious case of Jack Carroll in Troy is another such example. Carl Strock has been writing about it in the Gazette for years. It involves lying Troy cops and an absolutely unscrupulous DA named DeAngelis and a Judge who was asleep at the switch named McGrath.
    Jack Carroll has now been incarcerated for eight years. Thankfully one of the most respected lawyers in Upstate New York, E. Stewart Jones has now taken on the case pro bono. Hopefully the case will be resolved with Jack out of jail and a lawsuit against his former wife who brought charges of child molestation against him. Read about the case on our website www.justicenow4.com

    By Anonymous Ernie Tetrault, at 6:11 AM  

  • Thanks for your comment. I have followed Jack Carroll's case ever since Carl Strock started writing about it. I am excited about Jones taking the case and hope he can get Carroll's conviction overturned. I have checked out your web site and plan to add it to my links.

    By Blogger Dan Weaver, at 7:41 PM  

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