- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Human Services made “personnel changes” following the death of a West Des Moines teenager who was left in an allegedly abusive home despite reports made by a neighbor, Gov. Terry Branstad says.

According to a medical examiner, 16-year-old Natalie Finn died from denial of critical care. She suffered cardiac arrest Oct. 24. A neighbor reported to police that Natalie had regularly asked for food before her death.

Branstad said in a statement that he and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds were saddened by Finn’s death and “the circumstances surrounding her case,” The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/2hg0HoE ) reports. The governor’s office did not provide details on the personnel changes at the Department of Human Services or how many employees were affected.

Natalie’s mother, Nicole Marie Finn, is charged with first-degree murder, three counts of kidnapping and several other counts of child endangerment and neglect. Natalie’s father, Joseph Finn II, is charged with three counts of each of kidnapping, child endangerment and neglect. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the couple has an attorney who could comment on the allegations.

Democratic state Sen. Matt McCoy said the governor’s statement on the case was “completely inadequate.” McCoy is a member of the Legislature’s Oversight Committee and is leading a probe into the girl’s death.

“If he’s going to tell you that much, he deserves to tell you the rest of the story,” said McCoy. “What were some of (Human Services’) findings? If you terminate a person for cause, you should release the cause.”

A spokeswoman for the agency says personnel information is confidential under state law.

McCoy said he has asked the state ombudsman’s office to convene a committee to look into Natalie’s death. Ombudsman Kristie Hirschman said Wednesday that her office was reviewing the child-abuse records subpoenaed from Human Services.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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