April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
April 18, 2014
Albuquerque- Today Mayor Richard J. Berry honored a retired Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Officer whose handling of a child abuse case inspired such compassion and concern that he would forge a relationship with the victim that would last a lifetime. Casey DenHollander was a detective with APD’s Crimes Against Children’s Unit when he responded to the case involving two-year-old Patrick France, who was so seriously abused that he was left significantly disabled as a result.
As a former Marine and veteran police officer, Casey knew that in order to be most effective at his job he shouldn’t become emotionally attached with every victim. Nonetheless, when he handled young Patrick’s case in 1993, he was so moved by the experience that he felt compelled to make an exception to that rule. Patrick was abused by his mother’s boyfriend and the man that harmed him was so violent that his crimes left Patrick with a crushed skull and brain damage and he would be in a coma for three months following the incident. Doctors informed Casey that Patrick was blind and would live the rest of his life as a quadriplegic who functions at the level of a four year old.
Casey would encounter Patrick again a year later at a community awareness meeting. At that point Patrick was in the custody of a family friend. Casey was shocked to find that the boy had made no progress in his recovery a full year after the terrible incident and he knew instinctively that he had to become more involved in the boy’s life. From that point on Casey visited Patrick every week. In 1996, due to her own health issues, his guardian placed Patrick in the care of Casa Angelica Home for Developmentally Disabled Children. Casey continued to be a part of Patrick’s life and in 2001 made the decision to seek partial custody of Patrick and become his adoptive father.
Casey retired from APD in 2005 and devotes a great majority of his time to taking care of his son Patrick who is now 23. Patrick cannot speak and is minimally expressive. Even though he is blind, Patrick’s eyes track the sound of his father’s voice when he enters the room. Some of Patrick’s favorite activities include going to concerts, the ballet, baseball games, and listening to stories read to him by his father. Patrick takes particular joy in hearing Casey mimic the voices of the characters in each of the books.
In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, Casey DenHollander is this week’s Friday’s Hero. He saw the devastating effects of child abuse first hand and has since devoted his time to providing a better life for his adopted son. According to Mayor Berry, “Not only has Casey’s selfless act enriched his own life and raised awareness about child abuse, but it has profoundly improved Patrick’s quality of life forever.”