PRESTONSBURG — A Floyd County grand jury indicted a couple who have worked with foster kids for years, accusing them of allegedly abusing five children in their care.
Jennifer Stacy, 43, and Thomas Stacy Jr., 46, of Stephens Branch Road in Martin, are accused of intentionally abusing and/or permitting the criminal abuse of a five adopted children on various occasions between 2008 and January 24. Thomas Stacy was also additionally accused of sodomizing and sexually abusing the child or children on numerous occasions between 2008 and January of this year.
The couple have worked at Mountain Comprehensive Care Center for years, with Jennifer Stacy serving as program director for MCCC’s Therapeutic Foster Care Program and Thomas Stacy Jr. serving as supervisor of that program in Hazard.
Mountain Comprehensive Care Center General Counsel Julie Paxton said the couple was suspended without pay in January, when their children were removed from their home, and MCCC terminated their employment on Friday, when the agency was notified of the indictments against them.
Paxton said the alleged abuse did not involve children associated with any MCCC program.
“There were no children in our program that were in their home,” Paxton said.
She reported that the couple also provided the same type of services with another foster care program in Perry County prior to working at MCCC. She explained that MCCC conducts criminal background checks prior to hiring new employees, and regularly undergoes audits and reviews of the services it provides.
“Before hiring anyone, and especially people working with children, we do all the necessary background checks ... a child abuse registry. We do a criminal records background check. That’s all we can do and we do as much as we can,” Paxton said. “When we were notified about these charges, we immediately — well, when the children were removed, we immediately suspended them without pay, and then when the charges came, we terminated them. But we acted as quickly as we could in regard to our program. Our program is now in great hands with Vanessa Lester as the director.”
She said MCCC officials did not suspect any issues with the couple, reporting that annual criminal and child abuse registry reviews have “come back with no incidents.”
“We had no idea about their home life,” Paxton said.
Jennifer and Thomas Stacy were both indicted on four counts of first-degree criminal abuse and one count of assault.
The four counts of first-degree criminal abuse alleges that they intentionally abused or permitted the abuse of adopted children in their custody, with those children “sustaining numerous physical assaults” from Sept. 2008 to Sept. 2012; from July 2014 through July 2015 and from Jan. 2015 to Jan. 2020.
The alleged assault stems from the alleged assaults that caused a physical injury to a victim from Jan. 2018 to Jan. 2020.
Thomas Stacy Jr. was also indicted on one count of first-degree sodomy for allegedly engaging in “deviate sexual intercourse” with a child by forcible compulsion between 2012 and 2017.
He was also indicted on four counts of first-degree sexual abuse for allegedly having sexual contact with a child under the age of 12 from Jan. 2008 to Sept. 2013 and from Jan. 2015 through Jan. 2020 by having a sexual contact with a person of whom he was in a position of authority or trust between Sept. 2013 and Jan. 2020; from Sept. 2018 to Jan. 2020 and from Jan. 2015 to Jan. 2020.
Online resources show that the couple has been foster parents for years.
One Lexington nonprofit agency that works to increase adoptions in the state highlighted the couple as a success story for foster care and adoptive families in 2018.
That organization reported that they started providing foster care in 2002, when Thomas Stacy worked at a foster care agency.
The couple adopted several children and provided foster care to others, the website said, with more than 30 placements over a 16-year span.