Citing state law that permits secrecy in child abuse cases, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services denied an open records request seeking information about investigations into prior child abuse allegations made against Martin residents Jennifer and Thomas Stacy.
The Cabinet denied an open records request from the Floyd County Chronicle and Times this week seeking copies of all documents related to investigations into reports of child abuse, child neglect and sexual abuse allegedly committed by the couple between 2002 and this year.
Thomas Stacy Jr., 46, and his wife Jennifer Stacy, 43, both of Stephens Branch Rd. in Martin, each worked as supervisors of a Mountain Comprehensive Care Center foster care program prior to their arrests in a case in which they are accused of abusing six children in their care.
They were initially charged with crimes related to five children and a Floyd County grand jury issued a superceding indictment against them recently, charging them with allegations of abuse against another child who was in their care.
Both Thomas and Jennifer Stacy are now facing five counts of first-degree criminal abuse and one count of misdemeanor assault. Thomas Stacy is additionally charged with one count of first-degree sodomy, one count of first-degree rape and five counts of first-degree sexual abuse. The alleged abuse occurred at various times between 2008 and this year, the grand jury alleges.
The Stacy couple have been adopting and fostering children for around two decades.
Kentucky State Police Det. Tiffany Bond testified about the charges in a recent hearing in Floyd Circuit Court in which she reported that social services had conducted “numerous investigations” into alleged abuse in the home over a period of years, but that those allegations could not be substantiated.
Floyd County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brent Turner previously reported that the investigation continues, and more charges could be filed because Bond is interviewing all children who previously lived in the Stacy home.
“They’re still in the process of tracking down people,” he said in a recent interview. “Of course, part of the problem is that when you’re talking about foster kids that moved from there to other homes and then eventually became adults, it’s not always easy to locate them. Some of them don’t live or stay in the area anymore, so that’s been part of the difficulty. But the investigating officer is working on that and I feel confident that she’ll find everyone that she needs to talk to.”
In responding to the open records request seeking documents pertaining to those unsubstantiated cases, the Cabinet reported that it cannot comply with the request because state law does not permit it. Those records, under Kentucky law, are only available to those who are accused of abuse or neglect, the parent or legal guardian of the child who was allegedly neglected or abuse, Cabinet officials, medical officials, law enforcement agencies, people authorized by court orders and others identified in the law.
There is an exception in the law, however, if the abuse results in death or near-death of a child.
Both Thomas Stacy and Jennifer Stacy remain in custody in the Floyd County Detention Center. At a recent bond hearing, family members testified that Thomas Stacy is dying of cirrhosis of the liver and in need of medical care.