- Associated Press - Sunday, June 15, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - An investigation by the Vermont attorney general’s office shows that a Department for Children and Families official was told in 2013 that Poultney toddler Dezirae Sheldon was abused by her stepfather, but that information was never given to the family’s social worker or the child’s court-appointed attorney before the child’s death in February.

The stepfather, Dennis Duby, is charged with second-degree murder. He’s pleaded not guilty.

The Burlington Free Press reports (https://bfpne.ws/1pvpAeO ) that Attorney General William Sorrell disclosed the information in a letter Wednesday to department Commissioner David Yacovone.

The newspaper obtained the letter and the police report through a public records request.

Sorrell’s letter says Dezirae’s mother accused Duby of breaking the child’s legs in a request to Yacovone’s Registry Review Unit. She wanted to change a department decision that she was responsible for the injuries.

“The mother acknowledged the neglect but claimed in that request that her boyfriend caused D.S.’s injuries,” the letter stated. “Neither the social worker nor her supervisor were made aware or advised of this request,” Sorrell said.

Sorrell’s letter said miscommunication appeared to be common in Dezirae’s case and undermined what police, prosecutors and Rutland Family Court knew about the case, the newspaper reported.

The department’s final report also appeared to have not been given to the all parties in the case, Sorrell said.

“DCF did not distribute the report to the various parties in the CHINS (Children in Need of Supervision) proceeding,” he stated in his letter.

Sorrell also pointed out that a judge unfamiliar with the case presided over a Family Court hearing on Feb. 6 to decide whether Eastman should have full custody of Dezirae.

“The same superior court judge presided over these proceedings in the D.S. case except for the final review hearing … at which a different superior court judge presided,” he said. “At this final hearing the parties stipulated that custody of D.S. could safely be returned to the mother and the judge accepted the stipulation.”

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