Ombudsman reviews Choate case

2011-10-13T15:00:00Z 2011-10-13T19:10:05Z Ombudsman reviews Choate caseBy Marisa Kwiatkowski marisa.kwiatkowski@nwi.com, (219) 662-5333 nwitimes.com

A Department of Child Services ombudsman said this week that she reviewed the state agency's interactions with 13-year-old Christian Choate's family.

Lake County police unearthed Christian's remains in May from a shallow grave in a Gary mobile home park. The teen's father and stepmother, Riley Choate and Kimberly Kubina, are accused of beating and killing him.

DCS officials investigated multiple allegations of abuse and neglect in the Choate household in the years before Christian's death but did not substantiate any wrongdoing in their care of Christian, DCS records show. DCS did not have an open investigation in early 2009, at the time Christian died of blunt force trauma injuries.

DCS ombudsman Susan Hoppe told The Times she wrote an internal memo to DCS officials after reviewing their review of how they handled their investigations into the Choate family. She declined to tell The Times what she wrote in her memo to DCS officials, citing a court gag order and confidentiality statute.

The Indiana Legislature created the DCS Ombudsman Bureau in 2009, citing the need for an independent group to review DCS actions and decisions.

Hoppe said she did not receive any complaints from the public to prompt her own investigation into Christian's death. She said she initiated a review because she "had an interest."

DCS officials also could not comment because of the gag order.

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