By Kathleen Foody, Associated Press
A former caseworker faces forgery and other charges for false reporting interviews with victims, family members or witnesses in 12 cases of alleged child abuse or neglect, prosecutors said on Monday.
The 22-count grand jury indictment against Richelle Schultz accuses the former employee at the Jefferson County Department of Human Services of entering details of the interviews into a state database that acts as “a significant source of information” for supervisors deciding how to follow up on reports of abuse or neglect.
Prosecutors said in a news release that officials reviewed all 12 cases after Schultz left the department and “supervisors confirmed that there were no unresolved safety issues and all cases were closed.”
The indictment notes that Schultz, 53, was assigned “less complicated” cases because she was new to the division and had just completed training. She also had to review each investigation with a supervisor and recounted details of false interviews in those meetings, prosecutors said.
Officials said court records don’t list an attorney for Schultz, and no one answered a phone number listed under her name on Monday afternoon.
Schultz worked for the county’s department for eight months, starting in December of 2015. After she left, officials did a more thorough review of her cases. In 12 cases, victims, family members or witnesses that Schultz claimed to have interviewed told investigators that she had not contacted them, the indictment said.
According to the indictment, five of the cases were closed based on Schultz’s reporting and five were awaiting review by a supervisor to decide next steps. The indictment didn’t provide a status for the last two cases at the time of Schultz’s reporting.
Mary Berg, deputy director of the county’s human services department, said officials’ “immediate response was to ensure that no child was left in an unsafe situation.” Berg said either a caseworker or supervisor followed up on each case Schultz was assigned.
“Contact was made with each alleged child victim and family member(s), and it was determined in all the assessments that there were no unresolved safety issues,” Berg said in a written statement. “All the assessments were then closed.”
A grand jury indicted Schultz on 12 counts of attempting to influence a public servant and 10 counts of forgery on Sept. 1. She reported to the county sheriff’s office Friday and posted $25,000 bond on Saturday.
Prosecutors said Schultz lives in Sheridan, Wyoming.