Local News

Moore County DSS director resigns following toddler death investigation

Posted March 2
Updated June 5

Rylan Ott

— The director of the Moore County Department of Social Services, John Benton, resigned Thursday, after an internal investigation into the death of toddler Rylan Ott found the agency had failed the case.

The announcement came after a closed-door meeting of the DSS board, the county attorney and Benton.

The board released a 12-page investigative report, which described "significant failures and omissions" in the child's case. The DSS board has hired Laura Cockman as interim director.

Rylan Ott, who was three weeks shy of his second birthday, was found unresponsive in a pond off Pond Branch Road near Vass and was pronounced dead at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst.

Pamela Reed was the guardian ad Litem assigned to the toddler's case. She said the social worker handling the case stopped the visit to Bryant's home but failed to conduct a supervised visit with the child and his mother in Moore County. She said the system put in place to protect children failed.

"Never once observed with her children," Reed said. "Had they done that, they would have seen the same things that I saw. They would have seen the same things that the foster family saw. And that child should not have been returned when he was."

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  • AlMis New Mar 3, 9:31 a.m.
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    I do not do social media but needed to reply - sadly, we will continue to have these types of cases when we make people feel bad about abortions. I stand in the middle (pro choice and pro life) because I see so many children abused, neglected, killed....the list goes on because we want to push our beliefs on others. God has the last say, not us. All those fighting for pro life are not standing in line to adopt/foster or care for these children who are born to those who should not be parents.

  • Anna Temple Mar 3, 7:19 a.m.
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    Many parents act deplorable. They just have kids and take no responsibility for them. This situation must stop. Why are these parents not taking care of their children. Not accountability on their part?

  • Judy Loftin Mar 3, 5:51 a.m.
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    DSS should be eradicated. They are worthless.

  • Linda Tally Mar 3, 1:01 a.m.
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    Keeping up with unfit and seriously impaired parents is a rough job - but doing it well is essential. The director has my sympathies but did need to clear the way for someone else to do what they are getting paid to do.