St. Lucie County Sheriff Mascara announces arrest of two people for filing false child abuse report in first case of its kind in Treasure Coast region
It isn't unusual for the Florida Department of Children and Families ("DCF") to receive complaints of child abuse from someone trying to falsely implicate someone else.
But it's extremely rare for law enforcement to substantiate the false claim, which is a felony under Florida law, and arrest the person making the false claim.
This morning, St. Lucie County Sheriffs investigators did just that, arresting a jail inmate and his girlfriend for the felony charge of filing a false report of child abuse, according to Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.
"We have charged jail inmate Rolin Joseph, 27 (DOB 11/18/85), and Danielle Lyn Ward, 27 (DOB 3/6/86), both of Fort Pierce, with the felony of making a false report of child abuse," said Sheriff Mascara. "This is the first time there as been an arrest on this charge in the Nineteenth Florida Judicial Circuit, which includes Indian River, St. Lucie, Okeechobee and Martin counties. It is also one of just a handful of arrests statewide on this charge."
In this case, Ward called DCF falsely claiming that Michelle Brown, the mother of Joseph's five¬month-old son, was abusing the child. DCF notified the St. Lucie County Sheriffs Office, and deputies investigated, Sheriff Mascara said. "This was an attempt to prevent Michelle Brown from moving to Orlando with the child," the Sheriff said. "Ward and Joseph were hoping the child would be placed with Joseph's mother who lives in this area If that happened, Joseph and Ward hoped to apply for custody of the child when Joseph got out of jail in November."
Deputies were able to prove that Ward could not have personally observed any of the acts of alleged abuse she described in the phone call to DCF because the child was staying with a relative at the time. Deputies also determined there were no abusive acts by the child's mother.
When deputies confronted Ward with this information, she admitted that her charges were false and that she and Joseph had planned the false charges in a telephone conversation between her and Joseph who is confined at the county jail. Deputies reviewed the recording of the phone call and substantiated that the Ward and Joseph had plotted for Ward to make the false charges.
Joseph is serving an eight-month jail term for felony battery. He will have a county court hearing Saturday morning on the charge of filing a false child abuse report.
Ward was taken to jail this morning and was released after posting $10,000 bond.
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Rolin Joseph and Danielle Ward, charged with filing a false child abuse report
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