The grandmother of a Northumberland County girl beaten so badly a portion of her brain was removed voiced concerns to county Children and Youth Services (CYS) officials on several occasions but was late to a custody hearing by 27 minutes last month.
Despite multiple referrals and an open case, a Northumberland County Children and Youth official said they had no concerns about 3-year old Arabella Parker residing with her mother, according to a Sept. 9 court filing.
On Oct. 10, Arabella Parker was rushed to Geisinger Medical Center, in Danville, after state troopers said the child was severely beaten by her mother's boyfriend. Parker remains in critical condition at Geisinger.
Parker's mother, Samantha Delcamp, 23, of Sunbury, was also beaten by 19-year old Jahrid Burgess, of Trevorton, troopers said. Burgess was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault. He appeared before Shamokin District Judge John Gembic on Oct. 11 and denied his involvement in the case, telling the judge he was "insulted" by what Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz said happened.
Gembic told Burgess he would have his day in court but that somewhere someone failed Arabella Parker. Burgess remains jailed on $200,000 cash bail.
According to the Northumberland County Court filing on Sept. 9, Bonnie Kahley, 55, of Sunbury, the maternal grandmother of Parker, asked a domestic relations hearing officer for partial custody of the child on Aug. 2. A hearing between Kahley and Delcamp — Parker's mother and Kahley's daughter — was scheduled for Sept. 5 in front of Northumberland County Hearing Officer Marsha Skoff. Kahley showed up for the hearing 27 minutes late, according to the court filing.
On Thursday, Kahley said she was late to the hearing due to scheduling confusion.
"I did not miss this on purpose and after I found out I had missed it I was so upset," she said. "I knew something like this was going to happen to Arabella. I wanted to go back and refile with the courts but my daughter had moved and I didn't know exactly where they went."
Kahley said she contacted Children and Youth several times and she never got a response. Northumberland County Children and Youth Director Katrina Gownley did not return calls for comment on Thursday.
Kahley said she will remain at Geisinger Medical Center until she hears good news about her granddaughter. "I'm worried about her brain," Kahley said. "I just wish this would all have never happened and someone would have listened to me."
'High number of referrals'
During the Sept. 5 hearing, Skoff wrote in a ruling that, a "Children and Youth Services caseworker attended the conference and indicated they have no concerns with mother (Samantha Delcamp) but have maintained an open case due to a high number of referrals."
Skoff continued by saying, "Mother (Delcamp) does not agree to her mother (Kahley) having custody and mother (Delcamp) indicated her mother (Kahley) continually calls in false reports to CYS."
Because Kahley did not show up to the hearing, Skoff dismissed the case.
Kahley asked the hearing officer prior to the Sept. 5 court date, for partial custody because she felt it was in the best interest of her grandchild to be able to keep an ongoing relationship, according to court documents.
"One where we can have one-on-one time to make and share memories," Kahley wrote. "Since Samantha (Delcamp) and Karl (Parker) are no longer in a relationship, and Samantha is in a new relationship, I have not been able to see my granddaughter on a regular basis."
Father not at hearing
Arabella's father, Karl Parker, 44, of Milton, also did not appear at the hearing. Court documents said he was incarcerated at SCI-Coal Township at the time of the hearing. Karl Parker did not make arrangements to appear by phone and proof of service was never filed, according to court documents.
Karl Parker pleaded guilty in July to driving under the influence and is currently incarcerated at SCI-Coal Township. Karl Parker was arrested in November when state troopers say he crashed his vehicle on Mile Post Road when he struck two utility poles, according to court documents. Troopers said there were three empty jars of "Great America" moonshine and an empty beer can in his vehicle.
Arabella Parker, then 2, was in the vehicle at the time of the crash, police and Delcamp said.
Karl Parker was originally charged with endangering the welfare of a child. That charge was dismissed when he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, according to court documents. Karl Parker remains incarcerated at SCI-Coal Township as a result of the DUI case.
He is aware of his daughter's condition, Delcamp told The Daily Item.
Burgess is scheduled for a preliminary arraignment in front of Gembic on Oct. 25 at 9:30 a.m. at the Northumberland County Courthouse in courtroom 1.
Matulewicz said if the child were to die, Burgess would immediately be facing an open count of homicide.
Burgess is also charged with assaulting Delcamp. Delcamp said she had nothing to do with the child’s injuries and that she feared for her life around Burgess.