Tulsa boy in DHS 'protective custody' is sexually abused

Wednesday, May 28th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A disturbing new development in a child protection case. You may remember Darryl Steele Senior. His son is mentally disabled and wandered away from home twice in the past six months.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services took the boy into custody, saying his father was failing to protect him. But News on 6 reporter Patrina Adger learned that perhaps the boy was no better off in protective custody.

Mr. Steele called us and said his son was molested while at a DHS shelter. Because this story is about sex abuse, we will not show the little boy's face. "They take him away from me saying he's not getting the right supervision here and this happened."

When Darryl Steele's son was placed in DHS custody for the second time, he went to court and was given a list of things he had to do in order to get his son back. Until he completes that list, his son is in the state's care. But Steele learned from his social worker Tuesday that two boys are now accused of sexually assaulting his son in the shower at a shelter where they were staying. "He told one of the directors-they got witnesses."

Tulsa Police could not comment on camera about the case because it involves children. But they did confirm that a report has been filed. The boys accused are also minors in DHS custody. Interviews are being conducted and the investigation is ongoing.

Steele isn't allowed to visit his son at the center so they have to come here for supervised visits. Steele says when he saw his boy last week he appeared to fine but he told his father he wanted to go home. Steele says he doesn't know if the investigation involves more than one incident but in his opinion, his son is no better off in the state's custody. "This place needs to be known if they're making mistakes with someone's kid. Everyone should know this is a place that's supposed to protect, they took him from me now they're not protecting him."

I called DHS's Tulsa office. They passed me on to the state DHS office and we have yet to hear from them. They usually can't comment on cases because of privacy laws.

As for Mr. Steele, he will go back to court in mid-June. DHS has asked him to move into a house with a fence and arrange for his son to go to another school before he's allowed to get his son back.

Steele says DHS has also arranged for a personal babysitter and psychologist for the boy. We'll let you know what happens.