Valley mom released after being arrested for child abuse

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PHOENIX -- The beating was so severe the 4-year-old victim had a mark the size of a 3 by 5 index card on his face. The suspect is his mom. So why did a judge release her 24 hours after she was arrested?

3TV discovered judges don’t always have a lot of background information about suspects when they come for an initial appearance.

"We as a community have to be the voice for children that don't have the ability to stand up and say you can't do this to me," said Robert Bell, the children's justice coordinator for Maricopa County.

Bell works closely with an array of agencies every time a child abuse case is reported.

"What you might see in the public is probably nothing compared to what might be happening to that child behind closed doors," he said.

What's been happening behind closed doors at this Phoenix home is now under investigation. In September, Phoenix police arrested Jessica McKyle Adams for abusing her 4-year-old son. According to the police report, Adams held her son face down and repeatedly hit him on his back with a belt. She said the victim's father, Terrance Hall, comes and goes and does not help.

Adams was arrested and charged with child abuse. When Adams appeared before the judge, she was released. The judge told Adams, "I don't want you around these children. At least for the time being. At all. And I don't see any criminal history here."

News of Adams' arrest prompted a daycare provider to contact 3TV. She says she reported Adams to CPS years ago because Adams two older children had come to daycare covered in bruises.

"If you have somebody who is abusive to one child in the home that would put the other child or any other children in the home at a greater risk as well."

While Bell can't comment on specific cases, he did say, "You can almost assure that the other children have been witnesses at the very least."

Phoenix police tried to talk with Adams' older children that day but Hall interrupted, instructing them, “Don't talk to the police.”

As for prior CPS visits to Adams' home, a former judge told us typically someone's prior criminal history not investigations by Child Protective Services is available to the judge during an initial appearance. Why? It comes down to bureaucracy.

"Even though they have similar jobs and they're investigating child abuse, they really go about it two different ways; they operate in two different branches of our justice system," Bell said. "CPS operates in the civil justice field whereas law enforcement operates in the criminal justice field. It is designed that way under our state law."

Which is why Bell urges if you suspect a child is being abused report it to both police and CPS.

"Ideally, we want the person making the report to reach out at the same time to both organizations and then the protocols establish that the two disciplines communicate with each other," he said.

But if CPS and police don't communicate at the beginning of every child abuse investigation more accused child abusers, like Adams, may go free.

The County Attorney's Office has requested additional information about Adams from Phoenix police.