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Caseworker crossed ethical line in pursuing adoption, DCFS says

Jury later found worker guilty of official misconduct in adoption of a baby.

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"In a million years, I didn’t think she meant Monique," LaPorte said.

LaPorte said it was only when she spoke moments later to a hospital social worker that she realized Mackay was adopting the baby.

At a glance

Editor’s note

This story is based on interviews, public records and documents available on the Internet, the sentencing hearing and records released by the Department of Human Services in response to a GRAMA request.

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But, Huff said when the two caseworkers presented relinquishment papers, the mother balked, saying the situation didn’t make sense.

Hospital staff, who knew Mackay was a caseworker, also asked whether there was an ethical concern since DCFS was prepared to take custody of the infant, Huff said. But Mackay told them there was no problem since she was merely there as a trainer and it was worth losing her job to get a baby, Huff said.

"Hospital staff tried one more time to overcome the clear ethical problem," Huff said.

Unaware of the relationship between the two women, staff asked LaPorte whether DCFS was OK with Mackay stepping in to adopt the baby, Huff said, and the answer was yes.

In fact, DCFS would have given the mother a chance to parent the child, Huff said. Drug tests on the infant were negative and the mother’s test was positive only for marijuana.

The mom "should have had the system in support of her," Huff said, but because of Mackay’s actions, that didn’t happen. "The system failed to protect and preserve [this] family."

DCFS has policies and procedures to guide employee adoptions, which Mackay could have followed, Huff said.

"Get in line like everyone else and follow the rules," Huff said. "This case is about taking responsibility for what you’ve done."

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The next day, Mackay picked up the baby and brought it to the couple’s home, where the infant remained for about a week.

But someone tipped off DCFS and, on Feb. 17, 2011, the division placed both women on leave while it investigated; it also took custody of the infant. Murray City prosecutors launched a criminal investigation of the women.

In March, a jury acquitted LaPorte of official misconduct, a class B misdemeanor. A different jury found Mackay guilty of the same charge. Both women lost their jobs.

At a sentencing hearing last week , Huff told Justice Court Judge Paul Thompson that Mackay had abused her power to "break this family up." She asked the judge to send Mackay to jail for six months to "help her understand what she’s done."

"Every step of the way, she has not taken responsibility," Huff said.

Given her background as a social worker and in law enforcement, "She knew better. She knew what she was doing," Huff added.

Mackay spent about a decade working in law enforcement before joining DCFS in 2007 as a social service worker. LaPorte said Mackay had an "impeccable record" and many commendations as a caseworker.

LaPorte said she believes her and Mackay’s sexual orientation led the division and the city prosecutor to target them. She also claims Mackay’s rights were violated when, as the infant’s legal guardian, she wasn’t allowed to participate in a shelter hearing to decide what was best for the baby once it was removed from her care.

The mother stated, while free of drugs or coercion, to numerous people at the hospital that she wanted Mackay to adopt the baby, LaPorte said. She added that the division policies are unclear and "very broad reaching."

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