Impact of Active CPS Investigation on Past Cases

It's a case surrounded by controversy -- and confusion.

Three Abilene Child Protective Service workers are on leave and under investigation for tampering with evidence in a case that ended with a 22-month-old child's death.

While the case of Tamryn Klapheke was the catalyst for this investigation, it calls into question the credibility of the caseworkers' handling of past cases.

So will they all be re-opened and re-investigated?

At this point, the entire ordeal is so new, no one is sure exactly what, if anything, will happen.

"It's a different path than a criminal case where you have one shot, one trial," said Claire Mehaffey, the attorney representing Thomas Klapheke, Tiffany Klapheke's husband.

Mehaffey explained Monday why CPS investigations differ so much from criminal investigations. 

"The path is so different than for instance, a criminal case, where you have an officer who could be the only witness. He's the one that will get up there and say, 'I found the drugs in his pocket, here are the drugs.'"

Mehaffey said in CPS cases, testimony is heard from a multitude of witnesses.

Jeff Johnson, another Abilene attorney, said those workers' past cases should all be looked over with a fine-toothed comb, but in most instances, it's not just the case worker's testimony that matters.

"You're going to have other types of witnesses, whether it's doctors, other family members, disinterested third-parties, who all testify. So whether these particular caseworkers were credible or not may have nothing to do with the outcome of the case," Johnson said.

Johnson said if the cases were a close call and if the women are found guilty at the close of the investigation, then there's potential for revisiting them.

"If there's a case out there that's talking about the parents attitude, then it could be very important," he said.

But there's also a 30-day time limit for attorney's to file a motion for a new trial -- and for most of the CPS cases, that time has past.

Despite that, Johnson said if the specific circumstances call for it, any and all cases could have the potential to be back in the courtroom. 

The Department of Family and Protective Services also has an internal investigation under way.

Thomas Klapheke filed for divorce on October 8th.
He also has an ongoing CPS case as he attempts to regain custody of his two children, who are currently in foster care.

Meanwhile, his wife Tiffany remains jailed on bonds totaling half a million dollars as she faces three charges of felony injury to a child.

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