Could Sean Paddock's death have been prevented?
Posted June 4, 2008
Smithfield, N.C. — If Lynn Paddock is convicted of killing her 4-year-old adopted son, a state lawmaker says the state social services system must see what went wrong in allowing Sean Paddock and his siblings to be placed in her home.
Rep. Leo Daughtry, R-Johnston, where Paddock is on trial,offered his view Wednesday as Paddock stands trial for Sean's death.
Her attorneys say the boy's death was accidental. Prosecutors say she wrapped Sean so tightly in blankets that he suffocated.
"We're going to look at this case and see if there is anything we can change to protect the public going forward," Daughtry said.
Long before Sean's death, the boy told social workers Paddock beat him during a pre-adoption visit.
Reports released after his death show social workers ultimately believed Paddock – that he was bruised in a fall from a bunk bed.
However, trial testimony from Paddock's five surviving children spoke of physical and emotional abuse almost on a daily basis and said that the children were kept from the outside world and that they were trained to lie to social workers.
"We were told to tell all social workers there was no spanking," Paddock's stepdaughter, Jessy Paddock, testified week. "The forms of punishment were 'restriction' or 'time out' – those were the terms we were to use."
Including Sean's case, there have been 206 children in the social services system that the state deemed worthy of review by its child fatality task force to see if there are policies that could have helped prevent their deaths.
A task force reviewed the Paddock case, but its findings remain private pending the outcome of the criminal trial.
Sean's biological family is suing Wake County Social Services, where the adoption took place, along with the state and an adoption agency.
Social workers from Wake and Johnston counties were involved in the case.
The state does have a new policy to better define how investigations will play out when they cross county lines.
The state won't say if that's because of the Paddock case, however.