When Craig and Wendy Humphries of Valencia, California, were cleared of child abuse of their teenage daughter, they assumed their lives could get back to normal. They were wrong. Nine years after their humiliating arrest and their two other children were taken away by local authorities, the Humphries are still listed on the state's Child Abuse Central Index. The couple was found to be “factually innocent,” and the court ruled that the teen-aged daughter's claims were untrue, so why does an innocent couple still find themselves on a list identifying them as criminals?
Well, that is exactly what federal authorities are currently trying to find out. Last month, a federal appeals court ruled that Los Angeles County was to blame. Coincidentally, the Supreme Court said that it would hear L.A. County's claim that the false listing was indeed the fault of the state.
The Humphries had established in a 2008 federal court that their constitutional rights were violated. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and said the system is unconstitutional as it does not allow innocent people the opportunity to remove their names from the list. Nearly two years later, California officials say they are still investigating the matter and trying to figure out how exactly to comply with the 9th Circuit's ruling. The state admits that getting someone off the Child Abuse Central Index is nearly impossible even if they are found to be innocent.
Meanwhile, as the state tries to address this mire of red tape and procedure, the lives of Wendy and Craig Humphries are still riddled with issues. Wendy, a special education teacher, was concerned that inclusion of her name on the list could prevent her from future employment opportunities while the whole, messy affair, which seems like it should easily be solved by the press of a delete button, rattles on in various courts. The Humphries, at least, are expected to get some financial compensation for being wrongfully included on the state's ever more questionable index.