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DCF worker under investigation after being arrested for allegedly helping mother try to escape arrest on child sex trafficking charge

·2 min read
DCF worker under investigation after being arrested for allegedly helping mother try to escape arrest on child sex trafficking charge

Hartford police charged a Department of Children and Families social worker with helping a mother, wanted on sex trafficking charges, escape arrest.

The mother, who was not named by police, was visiting with her 4-year-old child at the Department of Children and Families’ Hartford office at 250 Hamilton Street when police arrived at the office to arrest her on an active warrant on a child sex trafficking charge, according to the Hartford Police Department.

The mother was only allowed to have visits with her child at the office under the supervision of 42-year-old social worker Melisa Roberson.

When police asked to speak to the mother, staff in the building wouldn’t allow it. According to police, Roberson then snuck the mother and child out a back door, loaded them into a vehicle and took them to another location.

“Roberson was aware that the female’s parental rights had been removed due to the investigation of suspected child abuse and sex trafficking,” Hartford Police Department spokesperson Lt. Aaron Boisvert said in a statement late Saturday.

DCF workers were eventually able to convince Roberson to return to the facility, where she was immediately taken into custody and charged with first-degree hindering prosecution and risk of injury to a minor, police said.

“Immediately upon learning of the allegations leading to the arrest of a DCF social worker, senior department leaders worked cooperatively with the Hartford Police to respond swiftly to this matter,” DCF commissioner Vannessa Dorantes said in a statement on Monday.

“Our administration is built upon trust with the children and families we serve, community partners and members of the public with whom we engage on a daily basis. We remain committed to holding ourselves accountable in [a] transparent manner and a human resources investigation has commenced.”

The mother also returned to the facility and was arrested on the warrant, according to police. Information on her identity or the charges she faces were not immediately available.

The 4-year-old was safely returned to their foster parent, police said.

Dorantes stated that DCF was unable to comment further at this time due to the pending criminal charges and internal investigation.

According to the Department of Children and Families, the department has a dedicated unit that processes background checks on those working with children.

The department searches the department’s central registry and child abuse and neglect history for anyone who will be “working or providing a service directly or indirectly to children and/or families” through the department.

Court records do not show any criminal background, in pending or resolved cases, for Roberson in Connecticut.

Public records show that Roberson’s social worker license was most recently issued in 2021 and was up to date through the end of August, when it was set to expire.

Both Robertson and the mother were taken to detention facilities for processing, and the investigation was ongoing, police said.