Newark foster parent charged in 5-year-old’s death

A Newark foster parent has been charged with child endangerment and potentially faces more-serious charges following the death of a 5-year-old he planned to adopt.

Kenneth S. Schulz, 29, was arrested June 4 after 5-year-old Nathaniel Gard was taken to Licking Memorial Hospital with multiple injuries consistent with physical abuse.

Nathaniel died Wednesday at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus of injuries that included severe head trauma, detached retinas, retinal hemorrhages, bruises and two cuts on the genitals, according to the Licking County’s Prosecutor’s Office.

Schulz was being held at the Licking County jail with bail set at $500,000.

Licking County Assistant Prosecutor Paula Sawyers said her office will take the second-degree felony charge to a grand jury this week. The office could consider other charges after reviewing autopsy reports from the Franklin County Coroner’s Office, she said.

Nathaniel and a biological brother were placed in Schulz’s Jefferson Road home in Newark as a pre-adoptive placement in December 2017, Sawyers said. The boys’ biological parents had no parental rights, and they were in permanent custody of the Department of Job and Family Services. In addition to his brother, Nathaniel is survived by five other siblings.

Nathaniel’s brother has been removed from the home.

Schulz and his partner, who is not facing any charges, were licensed as foster parents through Caring for Kids, a private agency.

Caring for Kids follows guidelines set by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services that licensed foster parents must follow, the agency’s Director of Domestic Adoptions Jill Davies said. The process includes full background checks, home visits and required training that usually takes three to four months to complete, she said.

Davies would not say whether Schulz and his partner had previously hosted foster children, citing confidentiality reasons. She said the agency is fully cooperating with the investigation.

“We are very, very saddened by this whole tragic event,” Davies said.

Originally published for The Columbus Dispatch on June 11, 2018.

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