Sources: Grand Jury Witnesses Threatened With Prosecution

Fox 11 News has exposed one case after another of children beaten, tortured, and left to die in abusive homes in our ongoing series, The Children Are Dying. Our sources say many of those children would be alive today if the San Bernardino County Department of Children and Family Services had done its job. 

We told you about a County Grand Jury investigation into these deaths, and about the whistleblowers who risked their livelihood by coming forward to tell us about their concerns. Six months later, new sources tell us that top San Bernardino County officials have been intimidating jurors and witnesses and threatening them with prosecution, if they don’t back away from investigating CFS. "They’ve infiltrated the Grand Jury and now they’re telling the Grand Jury what to investigative, what not to investigate, and that's not the purpose of the Grand Jury.

The Grand Jury is supposed to be an independent oversight of county operations when concerns are made," says one of our sources. Another tells us, "The ones that were investigating the Department of Children and Family Services knew that they were on to something. They did not want to back down and, before you know it, the grand jury legal advisor has threatened them with potential lawsuits if they print something that is considered defamation." The legal advisor they are referring to is Deputy District Attorney Michael Dauber. He declined an interview with Fox 11 News, saying he couldn't answer questions because of Grand Jury confidentiality laws.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos did sit down for an interview with us. He denied all of the allegations made against the legal advisor who reports to the D.A.’s office.  During the interview, reporter Gina Silva asked him about the new allegations, "Telling witnesses that they can not reveal information because they could be prosecuted, is that something that a legal advisor should be doing?" Ramos responded, "That’s not only something he shouldn’t be doing, but he has not done it. That has not happened in a Grand Jury proceeding."  

But attorney Valerie Ross, who represents a witness who testified before the County Grand jury, says the legal advisor did interfere with the Grand Jury investigation. Ross says, "I got a call from the legal advisor who told me that if my client testified, he’d be committing a crime." Ross says the legal advisor did not elaborate, but she took the warning seriously and told her client to leave the Grand Jury immediately. "My conclusion was there was an effort to interfere. A witness doesn’t usually get in trouble for answering a Grand Jury’s question. A witness gets in trouble for failing or refusing to answer a question," says Ross. 

Perhaps most disturbing is the allegation that a lead juror was removed from the Grand Jury because he refused to stop investigating CFS and he was suspected of being one of our sources.  D.A. Ramos had this to say, "As far as the individual that was removed, that’s a decision that’s made by a Superior Court judge, the presiding judge." A disheartened source says, "The report will come out that the county has cleaned up its act, that there’s no more issues." 

Meanwhile, our sources say, the problems with CFS continue. "There hasn’t been any change. We’re still having children dying at alarming rates. We’re still having children left in homes where they should be removed." Ramos says our sources should take their evidence to him, so he can launch an investigation. "If they really want us to take a look at it, they need to come to me, come to my office," says Ramos.  But that’s not something these sources are comfortable doing. They say their only hope now is for an outside agency like the State Attorney General’s Office or the FBI to investigate San Bernardino County. 

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