Gag Order Imposed by Juvenile Court Judge Challenged in Arizona

By Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley is a former freelance contributor.
October 16, 2019 Updated: October 16, 2019

A woman who worked for a private contractor for Arizona’s Department of Child Safety (DCS) that transported foster children to and from their parental visits has decided to speak out about DCS after enduring a gag order from a juvenile court judge.

Beth Breen defied the order in granting an interview with the Northwest Liberty News online program.

Breen spoke about her experience driving a young girl named Devani, who was put into the foster home of David Frodsham, a man who was convicted of molestation after his tenure supervising Devani. In February 2018, an alleged victim of Frodsham filed a $15 million lawsuit against DCS and another state agency.

Meanwhile, Devani reportedly now lives under a different name.

“I had already spoken to the media prior to getting gagged,” Breen told The Epoch Times. A juvenile court judge gagged Breen in March 2017.

“[The judge] said she will definitely have me jailed” if I talk, Breen said. “The grandmother was trying to gain custody because the mom’s rights had already been severed. She [the judge] gagged everybody and threw us out of the courtroom.”

Devani’s adoptive mother was convicted in 2018 and sentenced to 15 years in prison for child abuse for causing third-degree burns to about 75 percent of Devani’s body, leading to the amputation of Devani’s toes.

“This is when Devani was in the hospital in an induced coma,” Breen said.

“I’ve been involved in this case since shortly after Devani was seized, and I can’t stay quiet anymore, and I have seen what they have done to this child and to this family,” Breen said.

She believes that had she been able to speak out earlier about what she observed, Devani might have been spared some of the trauma she’s endured in foster care. Breen’s situation isn’t unusual, since parents around the country involved with child protective services (CPS) agencies in their states have complained of gag orders imposed against them.

Devani’s grandmother has been unable to win back custody from the state of Arizona, because of her low income.

“I’ve heard a lot of parents say that they don’t qualify financially, but they [DCF] will pay strangers to take care your kid,” Breen said.

Breen first noticed concerns with Devani when she was driving the girl, then about 3 years old, from her Sierra Vista foster home to her parental visits and back.

“I would drive 90 miles to Sierra Vista from Tucson, pick up little Devani, bring her to Tucson for her parents’ 2-hour supervised visit, then I would drive her back. On the way to her visits, she was also excited and happy, but on the way back from her visits, she was crying uncontrollably, kicking, and screaming. She was a difficult transport because she just wanted her parents,” Breen said. “The mother told me she had concerns. She felt her daughter had a urinary tract infection.”

“I would feel so much guilt, because the mother would say, ‘Something is going on with my daughter.’ She eventually called the Sierra Vista Welfare Department. She was reprimanded by CPS for calling the police trying to protect her child.”

Devani’s mother was just one of dozens of people who called the police about the convicted pedophile’s foster home over the course of several years, Breen said.

“At one point, a couple months after she started transporting her, the mother requested only female drivers only because Devani would become hysterical if a male driver was driving her. Ninety to 95 percent of the time, I was her driver, and she became comfortable with me,” Breen said.

Arizona DCS didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Many parents around the country whose children have been fostered though CPS have complained that gag orders typically imposed by family court judges are unfair and unconstitutional.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is hearing the case of a mother challenging the constitutionality of a gag order in a parental custody case. Some advocates see the case as having the potential to eliminate gag orders and increase transparency in child custody cases.

Follow Patrick Howley on twitter: @HowleyReporter

Patrick Howley is a former freelance contributor.