Police released information that Child Protective Services made a voluntary agreement with Sergio Celis. He is not to have contact with his sons. He agreed to leave the family home. That does not mean the children were “removed” from the father or the family.
This type of agreement is developed during a meeting with the family and concerned professionals, as well as the CPS investigator, supervisor and CPS meeting facilitator. If the CPS agency got information from law enforcement that the father had done something to put his children in the way of harm, the agency needed to take action. But, maybe there wasn’t enough information to take the situation to court, under our Arizona laws.
Removal of children must meet stringent legal requirements that the CPS investigator would need to detail in a written petition to the court.
A voluntary agreement is time limited and has stipulations. For example, there is a monitor appointed whose role it is to assure that the father doesn’t violate the agreement. Typically and it is my best guest - that the mother was given the designation as monitor – which would mean that at this time she is trusted by the CPS agency, as well as law enforcement and willing and able to set and maintain these limits.
In addition to that, there may be drop in visits to the home randomly, by a CPS investigator. Or, there could be a trusted family member monitoring and visiting additionally.
All parties, including both parents need to agree to and sign off on a voluntary. It is not legally binding. However, if he violated it, that could provide legal weight for the agency to initiate a court case. In the worst case scenario, if the mother were enabling the violation, the children may be removed and put with approved relatives, or if that is lacking, in foster care.
The agreement doesn’t mean that Sergio Celis is considered to have done something wrong or hurt his daughter. It is a precaution.
If there was grave concern, there would be court action (through the Pima County Juvenile Court) initiated by CPS and not a voluntary contract.
It may be that he has a past record of arrests for driving while intoxicated with the children in the car. Or, he had an arrest several years ago – at a younger age – for using marijuana, cocaine or other drugs. Or, it could simply be based on whatever information law enforcement provided. Keep in mind if that were concrete and irrefutable proof he was somehow involved or negligent, then law enforcement would have initiated an arrest – don’t you think?
Sergio could be severely depressed about his daughter’s disappearance and so guilty that he has verbalized suicidal ideation. He could be unable to function due to depression, leading him to cry continually and/or react in unpredictable ways that adversely affect his boys.
There may have been an incident of prior domestic violence which raised concerns. This is possible, but not probable because if he had hurt his wife and/or children before and Becky Celis did not take action to prevent and protect – the CPS agency could potentially take legal custody as it might appear Becky is afraid or unable to protect.
He may be angry or not, with his sons, or they perceive he is…and they may think he blames them for the incident – after all, they almost always slept in their brother’s room. Why not that night? The boy(s) may have stated they are worried or fearful about this.
There may be someone who is targeting Sergio, placing him in jeopardy, and to remain in the home would further jeopardize his children’s safety.
Perhaps Sergio owes money to unsavory people…and that puts the rest of the family at risk. Is he a gambler? Was there any drug dealing going on in the house? Was there traffic going in and out that the neighbors are now reporting on? Did he do something to anger the wrong people?
There may have been statements made by one or both parents that is inconsistent…or not matching, that raises concerns about what happened. It may be his affect when he reported his child missing, his chuckling about telling his wife to “get her butt home” raised flags in some way. We never know how people will respond to a crisis – you cannot jump to conclusions.
Perhaps Sergio had become overly vigilant in the home to the point it frightened the boys. Maybe he began to stay up all night, patrolling the house and checking doors and on the hour - who knows.
The boys may have said something that concerned investigators – maybe one of both heard someone else in the house that morning.
Maybe the boys think their father is angry with them; after all, why wasn’t Isa sleeping in their room that night like she normally does? He may not be able to assuage their guilt (if they have any), if he himself too feels guilty or distraught. What’s left in him to give the boys right now? He is the man, the protector…and like any father he has to feel terrible about whatever happened.
Police, now believe Isa’s disappearances abduction. However, they haven’t ruled out the parents. Law enforcement is not sure who the abductor(s) are and whether, somehow, Sergio brought the people to the home – however innocently – himself.
Time will tell. Law enforcement recently stated that CPS was at the family home in December. Why? Was there a domestic violence incident? Did neighbors hear something? Did a child tell the teacher something? Did people observe cars and strangers coming to the home all hours of the night? Or maybe only after Becky went to work?
It takes time to develop information to “solve” a case. Both CPS and law enforcement are expected to know and turn over rocks and leads and swiftly figure out what’s going on. But, of course, that’s what we’ve learned as a society to expect. Doesn’t CSI and all the other investigators, law enforcement agencies and other professionals we see portrayed on Television figure it all out in an hour. It’s only a matter of time before people start questioning whether Police know what they are doing or if they have done enough. We know if CPS had any prior involvement, it will all be turned back on that Agency.
Such is child welfare. Such is the nature of frightening times. No one knows right now what is going on. And let’s remember, it’s all about Isabel…and keep praying, and keep thinking good thoughts and keep the focus on her. Now is not the time to judge and reach a conclusion. We still need to focus on finding her.