DCF responsible in Bradford death

Published: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 12:12 a.m.
A Bradford County jury found the state Department of Children & Families 100 percent at fault Wednesday in the death of a 3-year-old girl left in an abusive home.
The civil jury's decision was identical to claims made immediately after the child's death in 1996 by an ex-girlfriend of the man convicted of killing the girl.
Ciara Floyd, 3, was beaten to death by her mother's boyfriend in July 1996, a month after the girl's father took her to Shands at the University of Florida with bruises on her chest and back. A state child abuse investigator said there was not enough evidence to remove the child from her mother's home.
The boyfriend, Larry Christopher Noegel, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Jurors awarded $250,000 to Ciara's father, William Floyd, the same amount he was seeking in the lawsuit, The Florida Times-Union reported on its Web site.
DCF's lawyer said in closing arguments that the investigator, Janice Joiner, had no recourse under the law but to leave Ciara with her mother. Deputy Attorney General Denis Dean said in defending DCF that there were no doctor's reports from Shands indicating abuse.
"Without that, there were no reasonable grounds to justify the removal of Ciara," Dean said. "Whether she'd like to do something, whether she has a feeling, she has to follow the law. It'd be great if she had a crystal ball."
But Floyd's lawyer said the bruises on the child's chest and back, an admitted domestic battery by her mother's boyfriend and a verified abuse report involving another child should have prompted Ciara's removal from the home, attorney Val Bates said.
"Would you have to have more information than that?" Bates asked jurors. "Ms. Joiner, she wants to see a knife sticking out of your neck."
Bates asked jurors to award Ciara's father $250,000, more than twice the state cap of $100,000, for negligence claims against state agencies. Bates said no amount of money could ever compensate Floyd for losing his daughter, who would now be 11 years old.
Dean called Floyd's death a "tragedy" but urged jurors not to "let the tragedy of her death be compounded by blaming Janice Joiner."
Immediately after Ciara's death, Noegel's former girlfriend, Tanya Timmons, told The Sun that the girl would not have died if investigators had listened to Timmons' then 3-year-old son.
Timmons said she and her son moved into Noegel's home a few months before Ciara's death knowing that Noegel was undergoing court-ordered treatment for domestic violence.
Timmons said she and her child moved out after her son told her that Noegel had lifted him out of bed by his hair, threw him on the floor, held him in bed until he wet himself, then forced him into a closet.
"That baby (Ciara) would not be dead today if something would have been done - if somebody had taken the time to listen to my 3-year-old child," Timmons told The Sun in 1996.
Bradford County Sheriff Bob Milner said Wednesday that his agency was aware there had been complaints made about Noegel before Ciara's death.
"But there was no jurisdiction for us to file charges except over the death. Everything else was up to (DCF) and others (counties) where the complaints came from," he said.

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