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Former Cook County official admits child abuse

Jan 11, 2018 08:54AM ● By Editor
By Tom Olsen of The Duluth News Tribune - January 10, 2018

The man who formerly oversaw social services in Cook County has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges stemming from an alleged pattern of child abuse.

Joshua David Beck, 40, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges last month in State District Court in Two Harbors, according to court records. He had been set to go to trial later this month.

Beck was charged last summer with multiple felony and gross misdemeanor charges stemming from a pattern of alleged physical and verbal abuse toward two children. He served as Cook County's human services director, from August 2016 to July 2017.

A criminal complaint said two children, ages 12 and 10, reported to investigators that they had been subjected to years of physical and verbal abuse, including strangulation, slapping, hair-pulling and name-calling.

Beck pleaded guilty Dec. 15 to charges of domestic assault and contributing to the need for child protection or services, according to court records. Additional charges were dismissed under an agreement with the Lake County Attorney's Office, which handled the case on a special basis.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Michael Cuzzo granted Beck a stay of adjudication, which will allow for the convictions to be dismissed if he successfully completes a year of probation.
Beck has continued to work in county government in Arizona, serving as the director of public health emergency preparedness for Gila County. The county's manager, James Menlove, did not respond to a request for additional information on Beck's employment status.

Beck and his attorney also did not respond to the News Tribune's requests for comment this week.

The children were interviewed at First Witness Child Advocacy Center in Duluth on July 19, according to the criminal complaint. Beck resigned his post with the county two days later.
A 10-year-old girl reported that Beck "calls her names, pulls her hair, throws objects at her, forcibly wakes her up, and takes away her cochlear implants so she cannot hear," the complaint said.

The girl recounted an incident in which she said Beck became angry and grabbed her by the neck, squeezing until she was unable to breathe. She said she later had a bruise and had trouble smelling.

On another occasion, the girl reported, Beck became upset and pulled her by the hair, slapped her across the face and threw hard toys at her face. The assault caused bleeding and left a bruise.

A 12-year-old boy also reported a prolonged period of abuse, saying that Beck "likes to cause him pain." He said Beck would often call him names and knock him off chairs, according to the complaint.

Both children reported an incident when they said Beck threw the boy down on the ground, causing his head to bounce off some rocks and start bleeding. They said he then threw the girl, who injured her ankle.

The children said they were not provided with any medical attention after any of the incidents, according to the complaint.

In a written plea agreement, Beck acknowledged that he "pushed" the girl and "intentionally caused bodily harm."

Beck's name remains on the website and phone system for Gila County, which is west of Phoenix and has a population of about 53,000. He is listed as the director of a department that "focuses on planning and preparation for response to public health threats from all hazards by interfacing with public health and public safety stakeholders, providing public preparedness education and organizing community volunteers."

Beck, who twice previously worked for Gila County, was rehired there on July 18 — one day before the children went to police, and a month before the criminal charges were filed — Menlove told the Arizona Republic in November.
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