Erie County is pushing back against a report about Child Protective Services (CPS) and last weekend's death of an Amherst toddler.
Amherst Police say three-year-old Mayouna Smith was the victim of a homicide, and they report she was physically and sexually abused before her death. The Buffalo News reported Saturday morning that Erie County CPS staffers looked into a complaint that she was being abused last summer.
Erie County officials, who have been under fire for past incidents where children died, said later in the day that its CPS unit never received allegations of child abuse in this case until after the reported death.
According to a statement released by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz's office in reply to the Buffalo News article, there were no reports of child abuse against Ruhiyyh Shropshire, the mother of Mayouna Smith, prior to the child's death.
In fact, the strongly worded statement says that Erie County "emphatically and categorically denies" the substance of the Buffalo News article.
The News reported that CPS caseworkers investigated a complaint last summer that the girl was being physically abused but decided to leave her in her mother's custody. Citing unnamed sources, the article states that a complaint of child abuse was filed against Shropshire in July.
The statement released by the Poloncarz administration on Saturday states that "a careful review of all available CPS records … found no evidence of a report from the NY State Central Registry or any other evidence or report of prior physical abuse against Mayouna Smith."
It goes on to criticize "uncorroborated hearsay and baseless allegations" and states that the administration will try to find the source that's supplying false information to the media "to stop this harmful practice."
Poloncarz's statement did not address the Buffalo News article's further contention that Shropshire's live-in boyfriend was the subject of a prior, unrelated child abuse complaint.
Our request to Poloncarz's office for an interview was denied.