From: Greegor on

Sources: Social-service manager falsely claiming whistle-blowers are
going to jail

By REGINA MEDINA Philadelphia Daily News Posted on Tue, Jun. 22,

A MANAGER of a Latino social-service agency has been falsely telling
the agency's foster parents that two women who spoke out to the Daily
News about a foster child's abortion are headed to jail, according to
several sources.

The agency, Concilio, also has updated its confidentiality policies
since the People Paper published allegations that the Department of
Human Services coerced the 16-year-old into having a late-term

Concilio began to hold small group meetings on May 21 for its 30 or so
foster parents to discuss confidentiality rules and to have them sign
the new contracts.

A source said that during a June 5 meeting, a woman read a letter in
English said to be from DHS commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose that was
interpreted into Spanish by Concilio's foster-care coordinator,
Jheovannie Williams.

"Lawyers for the city and for Concilio will sue the newspaper and the
social worker and the person who was a foster [parent]," Williams told
the foster parents, according to the source, who spoke on condition of
anonymity for fear of reprisals. "The sentence could be five to 10
years in jail."

When informed of the letter, DHS spokeswoman Alicia Taylor said: "The
commissioner did not write a letter like this. She knows nothing about

Repeated calls and e-mails from the Daily News seeking comment were
not returned by Concilio executive director Joanna Otero-Cruz or board
president Tony Valdes.

"What this sounds like is a massive campaign of fear and intimidation
by an agency [Concilio] that has shown itself to have failed
miserably," said Richard Wexler, executive director of the National
Coalition for Child Protection Reform.

"Being forced to sign gag orders while allegedly being told that
somebody who spoke out is going to jail - if that's what they're
saying - that's a scare tactic," Wexler said.

City spokesman Douglas Oliver said that the foster mother had violated
HIPAA by revealing confidential information about her charge.

Several attorneys familiar with HIPAA, the 1996 Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act, a federal law regarding the
privacy of medical records, said that a violation could be pursued
only by the feds and that the women who spoke with the paper would
never see a day behind bars in this case.

"Criminal sanctions? I doubt it very much," said a lawyer who spoke on
condition of anonymity. "Who's going to prosecute that? They are not
going to get a U.S. attorney to prosecute that."

The alleged scare tactics began May 3 when the People Paper published
claims made by former foster mother Luz Navarro, 50. Navarro said that
she overheard a DHS caseworker tell the teen, already a mother and at
least six months' pregnant, that she would be separated from her
toddler and the unborn child if she went to term.

The teen's social worker, Marisol Rivera, 51, was later fired. Rivera
believes that she was dismissed because she had at first refused to
accompany the teen to her abortion procedure based on religious

The teen, her child and two other minors were removed from Navarro's
home by Concilio the day her allegations appeared in the paper.

The new 24-page contract, obtained by the People Paper, says that
Concilio's foster parents are forbidden to share "the child's history
with neighbors, friends, relatives or any other persons(s) not
directly involved with the professional care of the child."

The previous confidentiality agreement was about four to six pages in
length, said Robert Newton, a former Concilio foster-care social
worker who was terminated in March 2009.

Rivera and other sources familiar with Concilio's policies said that
confidentiality was never a priority before the stories ran in the

During the confidentiality meeting earlier this month, Williams told
the group in Spanish "don't believe the lies in the newspaper and
don't believe the people who are united to create chaos," a source

Other sources, including former co-workers and someone who attended a
different meeting, also said that Williams told them that the two
women would go to jail.

Perhaps Williams should have given the new agreement a once-over

According to former Concilio supervisor Ruth Cabrera, she spoke with a
"traumatized" Williams a few days after the teen's abortion. Williams
had driven the agency's van to the abortion clinic in New Jersey on
March 17 with the minor, her 1-year-old daughter, Rivera and Navarro.

Cabrera told him that she had heard about the girl, who was six
months' pregnant, but Williams immediately corrected her.

"No, Ruth, she wasn't six months' pregnant, she was seven months'
pregnant," she recalled him saying, in an interview conducted in

Williams also disparaged Rivera, formerly his good friend, at an
American Legion event on May 2, said Cabrera, who worked at Concilio
for 15 years.

"He told me the situation was 'hot' and Marisol had taken the wrong
tactic . . . and that she will face criminal charges. And I said,
'Why? She hasn't killed anyone,' " Cabrera recalled.

Other Concilio workers also apparently discussed the case.

News of the teen's abortion had already spread in the community
shortly after it happened and weeks before the Daily News story was
published, Cabrera said. In April, Cabrera went to a North
Philadelphia hair salon frequented by some Concilio managers.

When she arrived for her appointment, the salon's stylists already
knew about the pregnant, underage girl at Concilio who had had an