PORTLAND, Maine — The caseworker who placed four-year-old Kendall Chick in the custody of her grandfather and the woman later convicted of her murder has lost her license, the Maine Sunday Telegram reported.
Heather J. Campbell, 46, reported that she had conducted criminal background checks on Stephen Hood and Shawna Gatto, Hood's fiancee, before placing Chick with them, but an internal review by the Office of Child and Family Services conducted after the child's death found no evidence of those reports, according to the newspaper.
The Portland Press Herald reports the state regulatory board found that she (Campbell) had falsified records, and that Heather J. Campbell insists she did nothing wrong and said she has become a scapegoat for the 4-year-old’s death.
Gatto was convicted in April of murdering Chick at the Wiscasset home they shared with Hood. The state medical examiner testified at her trial that Chick had been subjected to prolonged physical abuse, and died of blunt force trauma.
Gatto was sentenced to 50 years in jail.
The state's Board of Social Worker Licensure ruled on Aug. 3 that Campbell "exhibited gross negligence, incompetence or misconduct," the decision reportedly states.
The decision states that had a background check been conducted, Hood's prior assault convictions would have been revealed and Chick would not have been placed with Hood and Gatto.
The Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram reports that Campbell told them she did conduct the backgrounds, but during a second interview the following day said she couldn't be certain. She reportedly told the newspaper that her supervisors knew about Hood's criminal record and approved placing Chick with Hood and Gatto.
Campbell said she recalled visiting the home in six of the eight months before the case was closed, had regular contact with Gatto and that and her supervisors thought Chick was safe.
She said she didn't always conduct in-person visits because caseworkers were overworked.