JAY — A Delaware County woman charged with multiple counts of child abuse — including not seeking treatment when her children were injured by pet monkeys — was not a state-recognized foster parent, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services said Monday.
Deidre Anne Matthews, 46, of Jay, is charged in Delaware County District Court with three counts of child abuse by injury, child endangerment and child neglect. She was being held in jail Monday in lieu of $100,000 bail.
“The public perception is that DHS placed these children with them,” DHS spokeswoman Sheree Powell said. “These children were not placed in the home by DHS.”
The children living with Matthews were eight girls ranging in age from 4 to 17 years old and a 10-year-old boy, authorities said.
Powell said Jerry and Deidre Matthews were foster parents from 2003-06. The couple is now separated, Delaware County authorities said.
“She is not a foster parent through the state agency,” Powell said.
Deidre Matthews is the adoptive mother of the 17-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl, according to a court affidavit.
Dressed in orange jail clothes, Deidre Matthews appeared in court on Monday by a closed-circuit camera and asked for a public defender.
Charges woman faces
She is accused of failing to seek medical attention for the two teen daughters, who were bitten by a monkey several times; failing to protect one child from assaults by another child; driving under the influence of medication; and failing to provide proper care for the nine children, according to court records.
She told Delaware County sheriff’s deputies that her family was chosen by the Department of Human Services in 2008 as “Adoptive Family of the Year,” sheriff’s officials said.
Some of Deidre Matthews’ children hadn’t been to school for several weeks, the court affidavit states.
Authorities said the two older teens were taking care of the younger children — cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, bathing, dressing them, and getting them ready for school — as well as caring for numerous animals.
When authorities arrived at the residence they found several structures on the property, some with broken windows and some that appeared to have fire damage, the affidavit states.
“Trash and debris cluttered the yard, driveway and curtilage of the home,” the affidavit states.
The two-bedroom mobile home was full of garbage and had animal feces ground into the carpet, according to the affidavit. Cockroaches were seen in and around rotting food that was either on the floor or on the countertop, the affidavit states.
In one bedroom there was a set of bunk beds and a full-size bed; in the other was a set of bunk beds and two day beds, the affidavit states.
“I could not see anywhere for a child to lay on the beds,” the deputy wrote in the affidavit, referring to clutter, clothes and personal items covering the beds.