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Former foster mom concerned SC child back with parents facing misconduct charges

ABC 4 News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A child who suffered 16 broken bones as a baby spent the last 48 hours back with his parents.

Despite winning custody, the battle over 22-month-old Foxx is not over yet and there’s still concerns over his safety and wellbeing.

The child’s parents are still facing criminal charges in the case. Ashley Joyner and Josh Coker were arrested in June 2017 on child abuse allegations.

Foxx was in protective custody until this week, when a judge ordered the Department of Social Services give the child back to his parents immediately. The judge ruled DSS witness testimony was not credible and closed the case.

One of Foxx’s former foster parents, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she was disheartened by the outcome in family court. The woman said she fostered Foxx for 11 months.

“I really truly feel on this case they (DSS) dropped the ball and it’s their job to prove that this child was harmed through abuse and they didn’t do it,” she said. “If he had rickets, broken bones fine but how do you explain the fact that he still had brain bleed in his head and evidence of shaken baby syndrome?”

On Thursday, the family’s defense attorneys, Ryan Schwartz and Bill Nixon, celebrated the reunion between Foxx and his parents. They maintain their client’s innocence and through their investigation, they believe Foxx’s injuries were the result of a medical condition, metabolic bone disease, and not abuse. They both had harsh words about how DSS handled the case.

“For almost two years DSS refused to provide any sort of plan or any sort of method for them to be able to work to get Foxx back, they just completely ignored them, completely assumed that this was child abuse from day one,” Nixon said. “The expert that they had, who is not an expert in bone disease, who is not an expert in orthopedics, did not bring in any of the x-ray evidence to look at to try and figure out what exactly happened in this case.”

Schwartz said he feels the trigger was pulled way too early in this case and little effort was put into a resolution.

“It’s a broken system, they are broken and it comes from the top,” said Schwartz. “You have people at DSS who don’t know the case, who have never reviewed a medical record, who have never spoken to any of the witnesses, who have never spoken to an expert witness, who read a case maybe a four or five-page report from somebody who is on the ground and they say, ‘Well you’ve got to try this case’.”

While the former foster mother said she can’t explain what happened, she said this case exposes some real flaws in the social system. She points to Coker’s criminal past as a red flag.

“It’s very disheartening, the whole situation is sad,” she said. “I feel sad for his parents, you know, I wish them the best but you know he has a criminal history. I mean, he’s got a violent past did anybody take that into effect?”

Coker pleaded guilty to criminal sexual misconduct with a minor back in 2010 and was arrested on assault and battery charges in 2012 and 2013.

Schwartz said his criminal record was not admissible in the custody case, he cited the pending criminal charges as the reason why.

The solicitor’s office will ultimately make the decision to continue with the criminal case against the couple, but no court date has been scheduled at this time.

DSS officials have not yet released a statement on the matter or what steps may be taken as a result.

Posted by
Ryan Schartz, Esq.
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