D.C. Agencies Functioned Properly in Rudd Case, Report Finds
'No Justifiable Government Actions' Could Prevent Girl's Disappearance, City Says
Dorothy Rowley | 9/2/2014, 4:10 p.m.
D.C. officials said Tuesday that "no justifiable government actions" could have prevented the disappearance of Relisha Rudd, an 8-year-old girl who lived for nearly two years with her family at a city-operated shelter before disappearing six months ago.
City government officials released a report Tuesday regarding the city's role in the case of Relisha, who was reported missing March 1 by social workers. The child, who hadn't been to school in weeks, was last seen with a man police said later committed suicide.
Abigail Smith, deputy mayor for Education, and BB Otero, deputy mayor for Health and Human Services, led a review team made up of several city government agencies, including Child and Family Services and D.C. Public Schools.
After examining years worth of files and interviews from city agencies and service providers, the review determined that nothing could have been done to prevent the child from disappearing.
"We conducted a thorough case review with the complete cooperation of multiple agencies and have presented the mayor with our findings," Smith and Otero said in a joint statement. "We have concluded that District government agencies and their contractors provided Relisha and her family with appropriate services and offered other services that were declined, and that no justifiable government actions would have prevented Relisha's tragic disappearance."
The report contains 15 findings related to policies and practices of the District human-services and educational agencies and contractors that had contact with Relisha and her family in the months leading up to her disappearance, and 26 recommendations for improving systems moving forward.
Mayor Vincent Gray, who ordered the report, said he accepts the findings and will share them with the Office of the Inspector General to determine whether an independent investigation is warranted.
"After six months, I continue to be heartbroken over the fact that Relisha Rudd remains missing," he said. "Although I understand the desire to identify some action the District government could have taken to prevent this apparent tragedy, I have reviewed the deputy mayors' thorough report and I accept its conclusions.
"Hindsight is always 20/20," Gray said. "However, given the law's extraordinary deference to parents, I do not believe District agencies could have done anything that would have changed the sad outcome."