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Attorney General Josh Stein Applauds Convictions in Cherokee County DSS Case

For Immediate Release:
Monday, May 13, 2024

Contact: Nazneen Ahmed

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced that a jury in Macon County found Scott Lindsay guilty on 12 counts of felony obstruction of justice and two counts of misdemeanor obstruction of justice. Special Prosecution Section head and Special Deputy Attorney General Boz Zellinger and Special Deputy Attorney General Arneatha James prosecuted the case.

“Public servants have a responsibility to the people they serve – they have a duty to uphold the law and protect the vulnerable,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Scott Lindsay failed to do that and harmed families in Cherokee County, who suffered for years. I thank the jury in Macon County for their verdict. My heart goes out to these families, and I hope this verdict eases their pain.”

Lindsay was the attorney for the Cherokee County Department of Social Services (DSS). As attorney, he advised DSS Director Cindy Palmer and DSS staff to enter into coercive custody and visitation agreements with parents that removed their children from their custody and interfered with parents’ constitutional rights. DSS used these agreements without explaining what they meant to the parents, and the targeted parents were often struggling with addiction or poverty.

DSS did not have the authority to create or force parents to sign these out-of-court agreements. The Cherokee County DSS forced parents in the county to sign up to 30 CVAs. Parents lost access to their children, and in some cases, children were placed in dangerous, unsafe conditions that included abuse and neglect.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation investigated the matter, and Cherokee County District Attorney Ashley Welch referred the prosecution of the case to the Department of Justice. Palmer previously pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and received a suspended sentence and 12 months of unsupervised probation.