Page last updated at 18:05 GMT, Monday, 29 December 2008

Mother's fear over abuse register

Yvonne Bray
Yvonne Bray cannot foster until she is clear of the abuse allegation

A mother whose daughters went to an orphanage when she became ill in New York wants her name removed from a US abuse register.

Yvonne Bray from Appledore, Devon, was taken to hospital with pneumonia during a post-Christmas shopping trip in New York last December.

Gemma, 16, and Katie, 14, were kept in a children's home for nearly two days.

The New York Administration for Children's Services (ACS) has denied there is an ongoing case.

After returning home to Devon, the ACS wrote to Ms Bray saying she was the "subject of a report of suspected child abuse or maltreatment received by the New York State Child Abuse Maltreatment Register".

If I set foot back on US soil I'm scared I could be arrested and my children taken into care
Yvonne Bray

The letter went on: "This means that you have been identified as the person who is responsible for causing or allowing to be inflicted injury, abuse, or maltreatment to children."

A spokesman for the welfare agency said the letter was a standard legal requirement.

Sharman Stein, ACS director of communications, said: "Even though there was no allegation of abuse or neglect in this case, because the children did come into our care temporarily, the system was required to generate the letter."

Ms Stein said the case was unfounded and had been closed.

Katie (l) and Gemma Bray
Katie and Gemma were strip searched and separated

"Ms Bray can request a copy of our report on her case from the State Central Registry, which would lay out all of these facts," Ms Stein added.

But 39-year-old Ms Bray said she had waited for 12 months to see official written confirmation that the case has been closed and none has arrived.

When her daughters were taken to the children's home, they had their clothes, including their underwear, removed and were issued with a uniform of T-shirt and jeans.

The frightened teenagers were then separated, given a medical examination and asked if they had been abused or were suicidal.

Ms Bray has recently completed a 12-month training course to become a foster carer, but she said she was unable to start fostering until she is free from the abuse accusation.

Legal proceedings

"Because I fell ill during the holiday, my name is now on the child abuse register in New York.

"Until I can clear my name, if I set foot back on US soil I'm scared I could be arrested and my children taken into care."

Ms Bray said that after seeing a story about the case in the New York Post, city lawyer Peter Lomtevas has started legal proceedings.

She said: "He has taken the step of sending the authorities a final notice to remove the name.

"If nothing results from that, he will take them to court."

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