OJAI : Caseworkers Acted Properly, Probe Says


Refuting allegations that child-welfare workers failed to respond to multiple calls about an infant who died of apparent starvation, a Ventura County official Tuesday said a two-week internal review has concluded that caseworkers acted properly.

James E. Isom, head of the Child Protective Services Agency, said the probe of his department turned up just two anonymous calls expressing concern about the health of 2-month-old Rachael Catherine Rother, who died Feb. 22.

Neighbors of the baby’s mother, 31-year-old Pamela Rother, said they had called authorities three or four times, concerned about the mother’s erratic behavior and alleged drug use.


Isom said he does not know if any action was taken after the first call from a neighbor Jan. 5. The second call Jan. 12 prompted sheriff’s officials to take the baby to Ojai Valley Hospital for an evaluation.

The baby was given back to Pamela Rother that evening because the infant appeared to be healthy, though slightly low in birth weight, Isom said.

Isom also said he found nothing to indicate that Pamela Rother was mentally unstable Jan. 12 when she was interviewed by a caseworker and sheriff’s deputies.

“Our management within Children’s Services is looking at it, trying to find out what they can glean out of it to train new workers,” Isom said. “I think there’s some training value to it, but it’s unfortunate a child died to get that training.”

Rother’s attorney, Douglas Daily, has said written accounts from that day indicate that Rother was emotionally troubled. Rother has been charged with murder and felony child endangerment. She is being held in Ventura County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

Coroner’s officials have not yet ruled on a cause of the baby’s death. They are awaiting toxicology and tissue tests to determine whether the infant suffered from a digestive disorder.