An I-Team investigation found efforts to save 10-year-old Takoda Collins from abuse prosecutor’s say he received at home was not enough to save him, but his death has prompted a reform movement an I-Team investigation found may save other children’s lives in the future.
Takoda’s case is one of excruciating pain and many missed opportunities to stop it.
Court records chronicled how Takoda was mistreated, stating: “Takoda was kept in a dirty, locked, dark attic and abused daily over several years.”
Takoda’s mother, Robin Collins, who had lost custody because of drug abuse, even called 911 on May 14, 2019 to report her abuse allegations.
“I believe his father is abusing him and hurting him. He’s too scared to tell anybody because his father won’t let him talk to anybody,” Takoda’s mother said.
Seven months later, on Dec. 13, 2019, Takoda died at Dayton Children’s Hospital.
Former Montgomery County Sheriff, Phil Plummer, R- Dayton, is now an Ohio House of Representatives member.
Plummer confirmed what the I-Team’s John Bedell first reported in 2020, saying law enforcement and children’s services did not share information in the case.
“Ten teachers called and said they see this continual abuse and neglect. Right? Ten teachers and no follow-ups with the teachers,” Plummer said.
Saying change must happen, Plummer and Rep. Susan Manchester, R- Waynesfield, are co-sponsoring House Bill 4.
The legislation would require law enforcement and children’s services to exchange information and work together. In addition, the bill creates an ombudsman’s office to investigate cases like Takoda’s. Supporters say it would prevent abused and neglected children from falling through system cracks.
“I think it is important for us to re-examine how these systems work and how we can do better in the state of Ohio,” Manschester said.
Creation of an ombudsman’s office has the support of the group Action Ohio, made up of people who grew up in foster care and now are working to better future foster children lives.
While Indiana has had an ombudsman office since 2009, Ohio does not have one.
Attorney Jessica Camargo, of Action Ohio, said if done right, an Ohio ombudsman’s office can also work.
“An ombudsman would allow kids who are being abused to call-in, report that abuse and have someone there for them and them only,” Camargo said.
Jermaine Ferguson believes a law like Plummer and Manchester’s reform plan might have led to detection of abuse in his family much earlier.
His adopted parents in Springfield were arrested, convicted and sent to prison for more than 60 years.
“That may have been enough to get us out of the house sooner than the seven years of abuse that we lived through,” Ferguson said. He now works with Children’s Defense Fund and is supporting passage of the reform plan.
The criminal cases in Takoda’s death are expected to move forward later this year. His father and father’s girlfriend face criminal charges, although the case records have been sealed by a judge.
After committee hearings over the last four months, Plummer and Manchester took HB 4 to the floor of the Ohio House Wednesday afternoon.
“This protects children who cannot protect themselves,” Manchester told her fellow lawmakers.
HB4 won bi-partisan support and passed on a vote of 88 to 1.
The bill now moves to the Ohio Senate where both Plummer and Manchester are optimistic about its chances for approval.
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