Local News

Social Workers Couldn't Confirm Allegations That Mother Abused Adopted Son

Posted Updated

SMITHFIELD, N.C. — Johnston County social workers were never able to confirm previous allegations that a 4-year-old boy who died this past weekend had been abused by his adoptive parents, a summary into the assessment stated.

Lynn Paddock, the boy's adoptive mother, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder Sunday in connection with Sean Paddock's death. She also was charged with felony child abuse for allegedly abusing the boy's two older siblings.

But the summary, released Wednesday by the Johnston County Department of Social Services, showed that social workers after visiting the Paddock family twice in early 2005, could not confirm allegations that neither Lynn nor Johnny Paddock abused the boy and that there was no evidence of inappropriate discipline to any of the seven children.

Johnston County DSS received a request to investigate the Paddocks after Sean Paddock, who at the time was in foster care, was returned to his guardian after an overnight visit with a bruise on his buttocks. According to his foster mother, the bruise was "rather severe" and did not appear to be from a fall from the bed, as the Paddocks had said.

A social worker, according to the report, made an unannounced visit to the Paddocks' Smithfield home, where she inspected the home and interviewed the Paddocks and the children in their care.

Sean and his two siblings were in foster care after social services removed them from their biological parents' custody and after caring for them became a financial strain on their aunt and uncle.

In January 2005, when the allegations of abuse were reported, the children were in the process of being adopted by the Paddocks, who had three other adopted children at the time.

The summary said that the complaint alleged that the boy was not allowed lunch for punishment because he would not jump on a rebounder -- a small trampoline.

The Paddocks, however, said Sean, who had been sleepy and cranky, did not want to play on the trampoline. He was put down for a nap, according to the summary, and was awakened for lunch, then ate a salad before wanting to go back to sleep.

Lynn Paddock said Sean was sleeping when he apparently fell off a middle bunk bed, about 3 feet from the ground, and did not appear hurt or indicate any discomfort. She said she discovered the bruise in question at bath time.

The original request for Johnston County social services to investigate came from the Wake County Department of Social Services, which was overseeing the adoption with the Paddocks.

Wake County social services has not returned calls from WRAL over the past few days for an interview, but Johnston County officials said such requests for assessments was not uncommon.

Sean was found unresponsive in his bed shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday. He was pronounced dead en route to a local hospital.

Johnston County sheriff's investigators removed Sean's older brother and sister after they observed bruises on them. Sheriff Steve Bizzell said that Lynn Paddock allegedly used a piece of PVC pipe kept in the home as a disciplinary tool.

According to the summary into the January 2005 allegations, the Paddock's other children at the time denied any physical discipline, telling the social worker that when they were in trouble, they would be placed in "time out" or restricted to what they could do.

For example, they said, they would have to sit down, would not be able to "fiddle around" and would have to "face the wall." As part of time out, one child said they were also required to "write their feelings down."

Lynn Paddock also told the social worker that they utilized a cause-and-effect/consequence method of discipline called "Love and Logic."

An official cause of death has yet to be determined; Sean's body Sunday was sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill for an autopsy.

Currently charged with second-degree murder, investigators said the charges against Lynn Paddock could change, depending on detectives' findings. She is currently in jail under a $1 million bond.

Investigators are also trying to determine what, if anything, Johnny Paddock knew about the abuse. He has not been charged.


Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.