AURORA | State investigators say charges against former social worker Robin Niceta of making false allegations of child abuse against an Aurora lawmaker are not indicative of systemic problems within the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services.
In a report shared by Arapahoe County on Friday, investigators said they found “no pervasive agencywide practice issues that indicate systemic lapses to protect children or serve families” after evaluating work done by the county and interviewing county employees.
“We never take lightly the critical role our human services employees play in protecting children and vulnerable adults,” said Carrie Warren-Gully, chair of the Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners, in a statement.
“We’re grateful to the Colorado Department of Human Services for the professional, thorough and sensitive review of our intake systems and we are gratified in the knowledge that the system works and continues to improve every day.”
The review was undertaken after Niceta was accused of calling the county in January 2022 to fraudulently claim that Aurora City Council member Danielle Jurinsky had sexually molested her own son. Jurinsky had criticized Niceta’s girlfriend at the time, then-Aurora police Chief Vanessa Wilson, a few days earlier on a talk radio show.
Jurinsky was investigated by the county as a result of the allegation, which was not substantiated, and the call was eventually traced back to Niceta.
Niceta subsequently resigned from her job with the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services and was charged with retaliation against an elected official, a sixth-degree felony, and making a false report of child abuse as a mandatory reporter, a second-degree misdemeanor.
Jurinsky responded by suing Niceta for defamation — a $3 million default judgment was entered against Niceta in December — and launching a class action lawsuit against the county, saying Niceta’s behavior reflected deeper problems within the county agency.
Niceta’s criminal case is ongoing. Niceta has most recently been the center of controversy over whether she falsified medical records in legal proceedings, purporting to have a brain tumor. Her trial is slated for August.
Niceta’s actions while employed by the county and the resulting scrutiny led the county to invite an investigation by the Colorado Department of Human Services. In September, the state released the summary of an audit that identified several concerns with Niceta’s work for the department, including a lack of documentation.
The state also hired a group of consultants to scrutinize how the county handles child abuse tips. The 63-page report produced by the consultants covers their findings and recommendations in several areas, including training, supervision, workload and how quickly caseworkers follow up on tips.
The authors rejected the suggestion that the county has systematically failed at protecting children and highlighted changes made to the Child and Adult Protection Services Division in the past 18 months, including the rollout of a new strategic planning process incorporating employee and family input.
They said the state found “no evidence of systemic concerns of falsification of contacts” and added that “ACDHS is actively working to address identified intake challenges through supervisory strategies aligned with the best practice literature.”
Jurinsky said she did not trust the report and said investigators’ conclusions did not satisfactorily address the earlier audit and the fact that a caseworker was fired for falsifying notes, one of five people fired recently for various reasons, according to the report.
“They wrote this glowing review and said there’s nothing to see here,” Jurinsky said. “They’re proud of themselves that they only have two liars.”
She said representatives of the class action lawsuit against Arapahoe County would be holding a press conference Monday afternoon that would address the findings. The county has filed a motion to dismiss the case and is waiting for a ruling on that motion.