For most moms, a knock at the door while homeschooling is merely an annoyance—but for Holly Curry and her family, that knock became a nightmare . . .
The day before, on the way to taking her kids to karate lessons, Holly had stopped at a local café to pick up some muffins for the kids. She left her kids in the locked van. The fan was running, it was a cool spring day, and she wasn’t gone for more than five minutes.
But five minutes and a few muffins was all it took to change her family’s life forever.
Two police officers met Holly when she returned to the van.
The officers scolded Holly for leaving the kids in the locked vehicle but did not charge her with a crime. (While Holly broke no law in Kentucky, and no harm came to the children, we do not advise parents to leave young children alone in their vehicles.) They insisted, however, that they had to file a child abuse report, and that the Kentucky Department of Human Based Services would be sending an investigator to the Currys’ home.
That was only the beginning for the Curry family.
The next morning, as Holly read aloud to her daughters, she was interrupted by a loud banging on her front door.
The child protective services (CPS) investigator at the door, Jeanetta Childress, insisted that she had to come in and see Holly’s children immediately. She didn’t introduce herself or offer credentials and she didn’t have a warrant. She just assumed that because she was a government agent, she had the legal authority to enter a private home and disrupt this family’s day.
When Holly politely declined to let her inside the home, Investigator Childress left, but said she’d be back—this time with a police officer. True to her word, she came back a few hours later, not with a search warrant, but with a male deputy.
Again, Holly told the officials that with no warrant, she would not grant them permission to enter her home. But this time, the investigator and the deputy threatened to take custody of Holly’s children if she did not let them in.
Scared, Holly had no way of knowing at that moment if they really had the power to seize her children, so she gave in and allowed them inside her home, believing the momentary intrusion would be less harmful to her children than being forcibly removed from her.
Once inside, Investigator Childress dragged the oldest daughter to her bedroom for an interrogation without asking for permission from Holly.
Imagine someone determining your parenting abilities by forcibly interrogating your young daughter!
But the most shocking chapter of this story is what happened next.
Returning with the oldest daughter, Investigator Childress insisted that she had “to take a look at the kids now.”
She ripped the youngest out of Holly’s lap and removed her diaper to check for bruises. She conducted an intrusive strip search on each of the six children, including Holly’s daughters—in front of the male police officer.
A young girl, strip-searched by a government agent in front of a male stranger! Can you imagine this happening to your daughter?
When Investigator Childress asked Holly’s son to take off his shirt and shorts, the boy looked to his mom to ask if it was okay. He had been trained by his mommy and daddy that no adult should ask him to undress or look at his privates without their permission.
As a father of seven, I am infuriated by what Investigator Childress did next.
Seeing the boy look to his mother, Childress stepped between them, blocking his view and said, “Show that cop your muscles.” Then she pulled down his pants and looked down the front and back of his underwear.
In a few short seconds, she completely undermined Holly’s training and the boy’s trust that his mommy is his chief protector.
Investigator Childress, acting on behalf of the government, did way more harm than good to these kids—and for what?
These children may never again feel truly safe in their own home. The bond of trust they have with their mom has been severely damaged. And the traumatic experience of being strip-searched by a stranger cannot be undone.
But together, you and I can change the system that thinks this behavior is okay.
Every day, HSLDA is working to protect homeschooling families in the privacy of their own homes. We call it “the battle for the front door.” Sometimes our cases have set important statewide precedents. Last year, Vanessa Wilson received $700,000 from Riverside County, California, after CPS investigators unjustly removed her kids. A case like that changes the way officials approach their jobs.
Holly was threatened because she asked for a warrant, as is her right. What happened to her could happen to you or me. . . .
That’s why we just sued Investigator Childress and the deputy in federal court!
Your generous support of the Homeschool Freedom Fund helps us continue to fight for Holly and to take a stand for the rights of all homeschooling families.
But as long as CPS investigators think routinely strip-searching young children is okay, the battle isn’t over. That’s why I am asking you for your help.
You can help us protect families, just like yours and mine, by making a tax-deductible gift to the Homeschool Freedom Fund at HSLDA.org/Holly.
[First name], your gift of $20, $50, or $100 will make a vital difference in our effort to protect and defend the rights of homeschooling families across the nation as we move into 2018. Would you help us with a year-end gift?
We could not have gotten this far without you. Thank you for your prayers and continued support. You mean so much to all of us here at HSLDA.
P.S. Families should not have to fear a knock at the door. With your help, we can continue to stand for the freedoms and rights of families just like yours and mine. As the end of the year approaches, your generous tax-deductible contribution will have a significant impact on our efforts. Together, we can protect children by empowering and defending families across America.