Child-abuse suspect subject of earlier county probe
A Clifton woman, along with a young girl the woman is accused of repeatedly abusing, had been the focus of an open investigation by the Mesa County Department of Human Services, before the girl suffered fresh injuries in early May, according to court records.
Moreover, the alleged 9-year-old victim of 39-year-old Dianeth Pittman was the subject of several referrals to authorities because of suspicious marks on the girl’s body.
The referrals started more than five months before the girl’s latest injuries.
The number of referrals, their specific nature and who they were made by are not specified in the records.
Karen Martsolf, Mesa County DHS spokeswoman, said state law prohibits the agency from discussing the pre-existing case with Pittman and the alleged victim. She said caseworkers consider a host of factors, including but not limited to statements from family and children, while investigating cases of child abuse.
“This case was no exception to our protocol,” Martsolf said.
Pittman today is expected to be formally charged in District Judge Brian Flynn’s courtroom.
Information about a pre-existing DHS case was redacted in the version of the affidavit released by the Sheriff’s Department on May 9, when Pittman was arrested.
The affidavit also said DHS and Mesa County Sheriff’s Department records show several referrals about suspicious marks on the girl beginning about Nov. 24, 2010.
School District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland said the girl enrolled at a local elementary school in September 2010.
The affidavit said the girl, along with Pittman, were living in a local homeless shelter around the time the referrals started in late November, but they left shortly after.
The events that led to Pittman’s arrest started with a report she made to Human Services on May 3. Pittman said the girl was missing school because of a black eye, the affidavit said.
She told authorities that while she was babysitting a 4-year-old child on May 1, the child hit the girl in the face with a large toy.
The girl repeated Pittman’s account to investigators May 4.
After the girl was placed into a foster home by DHS, she told another story, showing investigators a “brand” to her abdomen suspected to be from a heated knife.
She said she had been tripped in early May, jerked up by her arms and had her face slammed against a wall multiple times.