Social Services

By: Susan Bahorich
By: Susan Bahorich

Things at the Mealy house are hectic, in addition to dealing with four kids, the Mealy's are trying to clear their name.

"Social services making me feel like I'm the lowest person on earth and I can't do anything right for my daughter," says David Mealy.

It started nearly a year ago. Gina and David were charged with emotional abuse & neglect of four-year-old Cynthia.

"We have had JMU, the judge alightum, a judge in Shenandoah County, in home therapist worker and none of these people could see where we did any harm to the child at all," explains Gina Mealy.

The couple was found guilty at a local hearing, now they're taking it to the state level.

But, according to local attorney David Parker- social services cases aren't all that uncommon and can be very complicated.

"It's hard for social services to determine who's telling the truth and who's not, because the standard is so low. Not a criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt that you have to proven during a crime, only a preponderance of evidence," says David Parker.

Out of more than 1,900 inquires last year, 855 were investigated. Out of those, more than 250 children were found to be abused or neglected and need further services.

While officials at Harrisonburg -Rockingham Human Services can't specifically talk about the Mealy's case, they admit they're not infallible.

"We have a certain number of appeals every year from this agency which are upheld and a number suspended," explains Elizabeth Hutchens of the Department of Social Services.

The Mealy's hope they're part of the group that gets another chance.

The family says the state appeal is ongoing, and at this point they're waiting for a date.

50 North Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540-433-9191 - Switchboard 540-433- 4028 - Fax 540-433-2700 - News Fax

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