WICHITA, Kansas — Tonight, there are new details in the story we first brought you Tuesday about the DCF’s involvement with the death of a child, allegedly at his mother’s hands.
On Tuesday we told you DCF did not meet their own guidelines regarding contact with the Blansett family after abuse allegations were made in the days before Caleb’s murder.
We also told you Tuesday the DCF did not want Clint Blansett, the father, to talk to anyone about this case.
Now we have learned that a DCF worker pressured him to sign a “gag order” preventing him from talking to the media by using, what Clint calls, threats and intimidation.
Caleb was killed on December 14th, 2014. On December 15th, there was an “emergency court hearing” where Clint Blansett was given temporary custody of his daughter. But what happened the very next day makes it very clear that the DCF absolutely wanted Clint Blansett to keep quiet.
On Wednesday, in response to our investigation, DCF sent KSN an e-mail, saying, “we issued no gag order. That is not within our authority.”
In fact, a judge issued that order with DCF’s full support. We went back to Clint and asked him to clarify the gag order issue and we were sent an audio file of a meeting between a DCF social worker and Clint Blansett on December 16th, the day after that custody hearing and just two days after his son was killed.
In that meeting, this social worker, who we are not naming, is walking Clint through the legal papers which include an order for him to not talk to the media, or else.
AUDIO | Listen to audio recording | Download text of conversation
“What I need is for you to sign this, saying that you’ll follow this,” the DCF worker is heard telling Blansett.
Clint Blansett asks the social worker what he should do because, he says, reporters have already been calling asking for an interview.
Clint Blansett: “Do I just tell them — reporters — that I have a gag order? I can’t say anything?” asks Blansett.
DCF case worker: “I would say ‘I cannot. I cannot speak. Period. I wouldn’t even say ‘gag order.'”
Clint Blansett: “That’s what it is.”
DCF case worker: “I get that.”
Clint Blansett: “That’s what it is.”
DCF case worker: “But if you say that, then they’re going to put that on TV.”
Clint is clearly concerned about not being able to talk to the media.
“It goes against my civil rights agreement,” he says. “I’m going to sign it because I don’t want to lose my little girl but I just want you to know that you’re taking my rights away from me. Okay?”
The social worker tells Clint she is merely “following a court order”.
DCF case worker: “I am not doing anything. That was a court order.”
She reminds him how important it is that he does not talk about this case.
“The last thing I think you want to do is jeopardize – one, your daughter’s placement, and two, your criminal case. Right?” said the case worker.
Clint: “I don’t think there’s any way I can jeopardize my criminal case.”
Social worker: “Well…”
Clint: “And I don’t want to lose my…”
Social worker: “But I don’t want no loopholes in the criminal, that’s why I have to stay back. Okay?”
Clint agrees, reluctantly.
Clint: “I’m signing this under, you know, duress.”
The case worker reminds Caleb’s father multiple times about the potential consequences if he violates the order. That if he talks about the case, she will go to the judge…
DCF case worker: “I will notify them immediately.”
Clint Blansett: “Okay.”
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The case worker also said, “If something goes wrong and this isn’t complied by, if we hear that you’re discussing with the media — Cadence’s case with the media — then this is what I’m going to do: which I’ll follow this court order.”
She even went as far as to say it was her obligation as a social worker on the case to report any violations of the order.
Since this tragedy, Clint Blansett decided he would talk to KSN because he is concerned about what happened to his family and more concerned about what’s happened even after the tragic death of his young son.
Clint told KSN he decided to record this meeting with the DCF case worker after first meeting with DCF employees the day after his son’s death. He says he felt like they were there not to help him and his grieving daughter but to cover up DCF’s involvement.
On this recording, Clint seems to be compliant with the case worker, even friendly at times. He says he felt like he had to do everything this case worker told him to do or he would lose custody of his daughter.
We contacted DCF and they said: “DCF does not issue gag orders or threaten removal of a child if someone speaks to the media. Our safety plans include directions issued by the court, which may include instruction not to speak with the media. This is not a directive from the agency. Our concern is for the privacy and protection of the child in out-of-home placement.”
EMAIL BETWEEN KSN AND DCF:
- May 13: DCF, Theresa Freed; Email stating that they do not issue gag orders
- May 14: KSN / DCF emails on clarification of DCF gag order