On August 14th, 2012 four-year-old Zachary Dutro was rushed to a Portland, Oregon hospital. When examined, doctors discovered that Zachary was dying from tears in his bowel caused by abdominal trauma. He was taken off life support two days later. At the time, his mother Jessica Dutro-Bogess and her boyfriend Brian Canady were arrested in connection with Zachary's death. Canady admitted that he had kicked the boy in the stomach repeatedly while wearing shoes. What. The. Fuck.
Now, new evidence has surfaced that suggests that Dutro-Bogess was abusing Zachary because she believed he was gay. While she abused all three of her children, Zachary had borne the brunt of the violence and on Wednesday, Dutro-Bogess' Facebook messages were admitted as evidence in Zachary's murder trial.
In the messages Dutro-Bogess sent to Canady she expressed disgust with Zachary because she was certain that at four, he was already showing signs of becoming a homosexual based on the way he walked and talked. Dutro-Bogess asked Canady to "work on" the boy. Unfortunately, working on Zachary included being violently abused by both Dutro and Canady.
What's even more shocking is that the abuse was going on while Dutro-Boggess was living with her children at the Good Neighbor Shelter in Tigard, Oregon. The shelter only has nine bedrooms, but even in such a small space the staff, who are all mandated reporters, either didn't know about or chose not to report the abuse, despite the fact that shelter director Jack Schwab has stated that the children behaved strangely.
"They didn't misbehave. They didn't cry out. They didn't run around. They didn't make a fuss," said Schwab, who emphasized the shelter is required by law to report abuse or suspected abuse.
"Although we thought the family acted oddly, and we discussed it, we didn't see anything that would be good enough evidence to get DHS involved," said Schwab.
Perhaps aside from bringing Dutro-Boggess and Canady to justice and making sure that the surviving children are being well taken care of, this case could be a good opportunity to make sure that everyone working in a capacity that requires them to be a mandated reporter is trained well and knows the rules of reporting. While Schwab says that the staff never saw anything that could be reported, it's hard to believe that such abuse could have gone on without the staff having even an inkling. And even those inklings can be reported.
I recognize that reporting to Child Protective Services is a harrowing ordeal for everyone involved and having worked with children, I recognize how difficult to make the reporting call is. You're worried not only abut the child, but about the family, and about the fact that you might be wrong. No matter how many horror stories one has heard about CPS, however, it would be difficult to disagree that in this case any kind of report could have potentially saved a life.
Dutro-Bogess is charged with one count of murder, five counts of murder by abuse and one count of second-degree assault. Her lawyer has stated that she is an "unusual parent" but not guilty of murder. (What an interesting interpretation of the word unusual!)
Brian Canady pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this month.
Image via Oregon Live