CHARLESTON -- The mother of a minor child claims her daughter was wrongfully removed from her home after West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources employees failed to adequately perform a full investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and educational neglect.

Stephanie Collier filed a writ of habeas corpus and a petition for injunctive relief June 27 in Kanawha Circuit Court against the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

In her complaint, Collier alleges Mingo County Child Protective Services removed her daughter from her home May 30, after allegations of sexual abuse and missed school. Collier claims the allegations of sexual abuse were against her ex-boyfriend, Lester Finley, who was not living with her when the child was removed.

When the child was removed from Collier’s home, Collier was asked to complete a family functioning assessment, which is the duty of the Child Protective Services worker, the suit states. Her child also underwent a sexual abuse interview June 4, but the Mingo County prosecuting attorney still has not been contacted in regards to the allegations, the complaint says.

In a follow-up meeting, a Child Protective Services worker informed Collier that she was accused of failing to protect her child because she had been the victim of domestic abuse in front of her daughter. In addition, Collier faced charges of educational neglect despite the fact her daughter was progressing a grade level and has favorable grades, according to the complaint.

Since the case has been opened, Collier has been unable to work at her job for S and J Family Services, the complaint says. She has been denied access to any of her accounts with the Department of Health and Human Resources, making it impossible to perform her job, she claims.

Not only has the case caused problems with her job, but Collier claims she also has faced family issues because of it. A Child Protective Services worker contacted her parents, saying she was refusing to cooperate and asked them to provide information, the complaint says. The phone call created tension between Collier and her parents, she contends.

Collier seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services from further enforcing a temporary protection plan and requiring the department to present the minor child to the court for determination as to whether the state is controlling physical custody without cause. She also seeks costs, attorney’s fees and other relief the court deems just.

She is being represented by attorney Dennie S. Morgan Jr. of Beckley. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie L. Webster.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 14-C-1165

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