- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

DANVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Boyle County woman charged with murder in the beating death of her 3-year-old stepgranddaughter had been reported to Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services 18 times previously, but none of the allegations had been substantiated.

The Advocate-Messenger reports (http://bit.ly/1NOdEwb) most of the allegations against Shila Raley were for child neglect, though there also were accusations of physical and sexual child abuse, domestic violence and drug abuse.

Only the final allegation, that Alexa Raley’s June 2014 death from internal bleeding was the result of child abuse, was substantiated. The bleeding was caused by blunt force blows to Alexa’s abdomen and occurred while she was in Raley’s care.

The cabinet, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment about Alexa’s death or Raley and would not allow social workers familiar with her history to be interviewed.

A review of almost 1,200 pages of documents The Advocate-Messenger obtained from the cabinet through an open records request showed Raley was referred to social service agencies by a variety of sources, including her own children, law enforcement, school officials and hospital employees.

Anya Weber, a spokeswoman for the cabinet, said referrals deemed legitimate are assigned to a social worker for investigation, which consists of interviews with the alleged perpetrator, any children in the home and others who might know about the incident. An allegation is substantiated if a preponderance of evidence exists, meaning the abuse is more likely than not to have been committed.

In the files for a 2010 investigation of reports of sexual abuse of a child in the home, the social worker wrote, “It is clear from reading past referrals that this family is very dysfunctional. Despite clear indications of family problems, Shila presents herself as a good mother and is very self-righteous and hostile in her attitude toward intervention.”

Alexa, born in 2011, was the daughter of Raley’s stepson. She had been at the center of a hostile custody dispute, and the Raley’s stepson shared custody of Alexa with the girl’s mother, Jessica Young.

In January 2014, Alexa returned to Young with bruises and a bump on her head. Young took Alexa to the doctor, where an X-ray revealed Alexa had a broken leg. Several weeks later, Young said her daughter told her that Raley had pushed her down the stairs. Young reported the incident to Child Protective Services, but it was never investigated.

According to a report, there was not enough information provided to locate Alexa, and the doctor who examined her did not report the broken leg as being possible child abuse.

On June 21, Young took Alexa to the Raleys. Interviews with children in the home found Alexa began throwing up on Sunday. The sickness continued on Monday as Raley drove Alexa around while she ran errands.

Raley’s 23-year-old son told the investigator that his mother stopped by his home in Danville that afternoon. Alexa was lying in the back seat of the car throwing up. There was a bruise on the girl’s stomach that stretched around to her back.

The son told his mother she needed to take Alexa to the hospital, which she did at 7:23 p.m.

According to the state medical examiner’s report on Alexa’s death, Alexa received two injuries to the abdomen, with the first injury occurring up to two weeks prior to Alexa’s death. The second injury occurred within hours to three days prior to Alexa’s death. She also had bruising to her vaginal area, legs, buttocks, head and neck.

Raley has pleaded not guilty. She is in the Boyle County Detention Center on a $1 million bond.

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Information from: The (Danville, Ky.) Advocate-Messenger, http://www.centralkynews.com/amnews

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