Two officials suspended in wake of Cherokee County, N.C. child welfare scandal

NewsChannel 9 has confirmed that two administrators of the child welfare office at the center of a state investigation have been suspended.

County Manager Randy Wiggins tells NewsChannel 9’s Brittany Martin that Child Protective Services Unit Supervisor David Hughes and Director Cindy Palmer have been placed on a 30-day, paid, investigatory suspension.

This comes after an Associated Press (AP) investigation revealed that child-welfare workers illegally removed children from homes.

In the wake of that report, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation into the Cherokee County Department of Social Services, and the state of North Carolina took control over the office.

Earlier this month, NewsChannel 9 obtained a copy of an email that explains there is a new acting Child Welfare Administrator for the county and that the roles of Supervisor David Hughes and two other workers have changed. At the time, a few days after the scandal erupted, Hughes and Palmer were still employed by the county.

Brian Hogan is a Cherokee County parent who has filed a lawsuit against Cherokee County. He claims he signed a custody agreement that kept him from his daughter for almost 2 years. The lawsuit explains those agreements are illegal and bypass a court order from a judge. Transcripts in the lawsuit say there could be dozens of other people who signed a similar agreement.

This is a developing story. Depend on NewsChannel 9 to bring you updates as we get them.