AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - After learning DHHS was notified numerous times about suspected abuse that led to 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy's death, Maine's Senate President is calling on the governor to personally look into the case.
Senator Michael Thibodeau wants Governor LePage to reach out to department heads to find out what DHHS knew and what actions were taken.
Thibodeau says he understands the matter is already being examined because of statutory requirements, but he believes an investigation into how the department handled the case is warranted.
He says the public needs to be assured that reports of child abuse are taken seriously to guard against something like this happening again.
"I think we all recognize the horror that little girl's life must have been, and people everywhere are outraged. They want to make sure that we have a system that, when there are serious allegations of child abuse, that they're being investigated thoroughly and that this never happens again. The system failed this little girl and I think Mainers, all across our state, hearts are broken because of it. People deserve to know what transpired. This isn't about a criminal investigation. Them folks will have their day in court. We're not trying to get involved in that, although I don't think many Mainers are real concerned about due process right now, they're more concerned about our young people," said Sen. Thibodeau, (R).
Thibodeau says if there's a hole in the system, it needs to be fixed through policy changes or improvements to child protection laws.
We reached out to DHHS about this case - they maintain the department is not refusing to comment but is instead not able to as dictated by Maine law.
The LePage administration says the DHHS internal investigation process began immediately and is already well underway.
They say these reviews are being carried out both internally and by cross-governmental entities.
All findings and recommendations of the investigations will be reported to Governor LePage for his review and action.