MURPHY, North Carolina (WDEF) – A grand jury on Monday indicted three people connected with child services in Cherokee County, North Carolina, including the Sheriff’s wife.
An investigation has been going on into practices at the Cherokee County Department of Social Services for at least a couple of years.
The indictments are against Former Director Cynthia Palmer, Supervisor David Alan Hughes and agency attorney Ronald Scott Lindsay.
They all face charges of obstruction of justice, failure to discharge duties and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
According to a report by WLOS TV in Asheville, the case involves custody agreements the agency signed with parents to avoid going before a judge.
Families have alleged threats by the department to seize their children if they did not sign.
The practice may have gone on for a decade an involved 50 cases, though attorneys say the number reaches into the hundreds.
An attorney representing a family says many lives have been broken by the “illegal” CVA’s.
The case eventually involved a special prosecutor, since the allegations involved Cynthia Palmer, wife of Sheriff Derrick Palmer.
Normally, the sheriff would present evidence to the D-A, who would then present it to a grand jury.
But this case was handed over to the State Bureau of Investigation two years ago when a judge stuck down the CVA’s.
Palmer was suspended pending the investigation, resigned two months later as director, but was then rehired as the office business manager.
The SBI report was sent to the State Attorney General’s Office, which appointed the prosecutor.
WKRK contacted the Sheriff about the indictments on Monday.
He completely supports his wife.
But he says if a court finds any criminal activity on her part, it was not done with “criminal intent or malice.”