Two former DHS workers charged in Serenity Deal case

Two fired Oklahoma DHS workers won't see any jail time in the case of the child killed by her abusive father. They were given suspended sentences, and each must pay a $250 fine, $100 to a victims' compensation fund and court courts.
by Nolan Clay Modified: November 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm •  Published: November 9, 2012

Two fired DHS child welfare workers pleaded no contest Friday to a misdemeanor charge of suppressing evidence in the Serenity Deal case.

Jennifer Shawn, 33, and Randy J. Lack, 59, were accused of maliciously keeping evidence from the judge when they recommended that the girl be placed with her father.

Serenity, 5, was murdered by her father in June 2011 less than a month after she began living with him full time at his Oklahoma City apartment. She had been in a foster home.

The suppressed evidence included a chilling hospital photo of Serenity's swollen and bruised face and two black eyes, Pottawatomie County District Attorney Richard Smothermon said. The photo was taken after an overnight visit with her father in January 2011.

The prosecutor said the judge never would have placed Serenity with her father if the judge had seen that evidence.

As part of a plea deal, Shawn and Lack agreed never to work at the Department of Human Services again. Both had been trying to get their jobs back.

“The thought that these two people would ever be in a position to make decisions that placed children at harm was appalling to me, and that's the reason that we filed these charges today,” Smothermon said.

Under the plea deal, both also will be on probation for a year. Each must pay a $250 fine, $100 to a victims' compensation fund and court courts.

Serenity's death sparked public outrage against DHS. The agency's longtime director, Howard Hendrick, retired this year after public confidence in his leadership fell because of child deaths.

Both Shawn, who was a child welfare supervisor, and Lack, who was a child welfare specialist, have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Shawn, of Shawnee, wept in court Friday as she stood before a judge. Her attorney, Joe White, said, “She's a fine person, a fine employee of DHS and she's moving on with her life.”

Lack, of Tecumseh, did not appear in court and the judge accepted his no contest plea after talking to him over the phone.

Lack's attorney declined to comment.

The girl was placed with her father, Sean Devon Brooks, in May 2011 even though she was injured twice in January 2011 during overnight visits with him.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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