Investigations

Clearwater police chief says 'no conflict' in baby mauling case

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) - Shavon Grossman and her attorneys called for the Clearwater Police Department to step away from a criminal investigation involving the fatal dog mauling of her baby Khloe Williams and to hand it off to the FDLE due to a conflict of interest.

"We're going to continue to cooperate with their investigation but we also would like the FDLE to conduct a separate independent investigation," said attorney Nioti Koulianos.

Clearwater detective Jonathan Maser was the infant's foster father, and the attack occurred in the Fairwood Ave. home of Paul Maser, Jonathan’s father and the former Deputy Police Chief in Clearwater who currently works in a city records department.

Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter insists he has no intention of deferring the investigation to any other agency even though the list of possible criminal subjects includes one of his own detectives and the wife of the city’s former deputy chief.

"The fact that I’m gathering evidence that I’m taking to the state attorney that potentially could result in a criminal charge demonstrates that nobody's getting any preferential treatment," Slaughter told 8 On Your Side..

Slaughter says his investigators are capable of conducting an impartial and thorough investigation despite the department’s ties to this case and he suggested there could be criminal charges related to abuse or culpable negligence.

"I believe there is the potential for an argument like that to be made," Slaughter said.

Slaughter himself is on the board of the nonprofit group Directions for Living which is tangentially involved because a Directions for Living caseworker delivered the baby to the home where the mauling occurred shortly after a supervised visit with Grossman at the drug rehab center where she was receiving treatment.

Clearwater police have said very little about the attack since it happened, but Friday Slaughter offered new details.

He said that shortly after the caseworker delivered the child to the home of former Deputy Chief Paul Maser and his wife Pamela, the baby’s foster parents, Maser’s son Jonathon and daughter-in-law Melissa, went out with their own children and left Pamela Maser behind to babysit the infant.

Slaughter says Pamela Maser was preparing a bottle for the baby when the family dog, which had been adopted earlier this year, started to become excited. 

"The dog that was in this kennel was acting a little energetic, like maybe it wanted to go outside or something. She opens up that door and it immediately goes after Khloe," Slaughter said

Slaughter says Pamela Maser was injured while pulling the dog off of the baby and then managed to remove the dog and call for help.

Documents released by Eckerd Connects late Friday indicate that foster mother Melissa Maser arrived quickly after the attack and began to perform CPR and other lifesaving measures until paramedics arrived.

The baby was later declared dead at Mease Countryside Hospital.

Slaughter also revealed that the rescue pet had a previous recorded incident of biting Paul Maser when he first acquired the dog back in March.

Slaughter says the dog had been around the baby several times previously without incident and also was used to the foster parents’ five children.

Grossman said she wasn't aware of any details involving Khloe's death but is convinced it was preventable.

Friday, outside of police headquarters, she recalled her last words to Khloe while wrapping up a supervised visit before a caseworker transported the baby to the Maser home for babysitting. 

"We're gonna do go yoga," Grossman recalls telling her baby. "And she got a big smile and she rattled her toy and I just expected to see her again."

Grossman is planning a private funeral for baby Khloe on Wednesday. She has extended an invitation to the Maser family and anyone else involved in the foster care of her baby since May when the child was taken from her and placed in foster care.

Grossman’s attorney confirmed Friday she has had nine children, the oldest is 17 and none of them is currently in her care.

Grossman has a history of 18 arrests in Pinellas for drugs, theft and other crimes.Her latest arrest was in August and Grossman was in drug rehab when Khloe died, but says the baby was helping her turn her life around.

"She gave me that push and made me want to change," Grossman said. "For once in my life, I was proud of myself." 

Some on social media suggest Grossman's recurring drug use, failure to properly parent and her baby's entry into foster care contributed to the tragedy.

"It’s my history," Grossman responded. "Everyone has different paths in life and that was a learning experience for me and I've moved on from it."

Grossman's lawyers see a bigger pattern of misconduct after four local child welfare deaths and foster teens living in cars, a scandal we uncovered in January, all under the watch of community care lead agency Eckerd Connects.

"All of this was at the hands of  Eckerd Connect and their contractors and now we have the death of Khloe, which is obviously something that doesn’t happen without somebody making a mistake," Koulianos said.

Eckerd's Chief of Community-Based Care, Chris Card, released a statement Friday, saying the caseworkers in his agency "are saddened beyond measure" by Khloe's death.

The mixed breed rescue dog that killed Khloe on Oct. 5 is currently under a 10 day quarantine for rabies.

The Masers have asked Pinellas Animal Control to euthanize the animal at the end of that period.


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