Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Eat Arkansas

For food lovers

Eye Candy

On art in Arkansas

Street Jazz

A view from Northwest Arkansas

Eat Arkansas

Root Cafe to host home cookin' pie contest

Traditional pie bakers, amateur pie bakers to square off at the Root Cafe on April 26 for a panel of judges—including Simon Majumdar of Food Network fame.

Raimondo Winery woos, wins at Arkansas Capital Corp. event

Last Friday night at the Arkansas Capital Corp., I got to drink Chardonnay and eat goodies that Margie Raimondo of Raimondo Winery will be selling when her storefront opens at 615 Main St., and I can heartily recommend her products. She'll have wine tastings and other culinary events and will sell her special products, like the fabulous onion jam and olives I had the other night. She also sells balsamic vinegars, extra virgin olive oils, more jams and other gourmet foods of her own making.

Pig ears, galloping horses, quesadillas, 'shrooms and bratzels: start your meal right

Meal starters? We think they deserve more love. Southern Gourmasian, Juanita's, Tusk and Trotter, The Flying Saucer and Damgoode Pies get a big thumbs up for their appetizers—and that's just scratching the surface.

Dining Review

Great Gourmasian

April 16, 2015
Great Gourmasian
Asian-fusion concept makes successful transition from food truck to brick and mortar restaurant. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

'Your reader and witness'

April 16, 2015
'Your reader and witness'
An interview with Nickole Brown and Jessica Jacobs. /more/

To-Do List

Ralph Stanley comes to Juanita's

April 16, 2015
Ralph Stanley comes to Juanita's
Also, Travs' opening night, Fleetwood Mac come to Verizon, Todd Rundgren comes to Revolution and Chen Guangcheng comes to the Clinton School. /more/


Max Brantley

Miles to go on equal rights

A couple of disparate events prompt me to reflect on progress toward equality. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Cowardice in the high court

Sometime this summer the U.S. Supreme Court will almost certainly put an end to the debate over whether government can refuse to recognize the union of couples of the same sex. /more/

Gene Lyons

The Obama doctrine

If he accomplished nothing else during his presidency, Barack Obama has surely earned a place in the Bad Political Analogies Hall of Fame. /more/

Movie Reviews

Art and justice

April 16, 2015
Art and justice
'Woman in Gold' too schmaltzy, but reaffirming nonetheless. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Razorback to-dos

April 9, 2015
Twenty-seven wins and the rediscovery of meaningful March basketball stamped Arkansas as a program of resurgence. Mike Anderson's leadership was finally reflected in the on-court product, and the Hogs accordingly shed some old bugaboos by winning away from home. /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Eat Arkansas

For food lovers

Eye Candy

On art in Arkansas

Street Jazz

A view from Northwest Arkansas

Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 17, 2015 - 17:33:00

The Dexter Suggs' No Good, Very Bad Week Edition

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s
appointment of two special justices to hear an offshoot of the same-sex marriage case who have obvious conflicts, Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, Dexter Suggs’ no good, very bad week, the Little Rock Board of Directors and a nondiscrimination ordinance and the Pulaski County school desegregation case — all covered on this week's edition. 

Subscribe via iTunes.



Friday, April 17, 2015 - 17:30:00

KATV: Author of dissertation says Suggs used her work

click to enlarge stolen.JPG

I believe I'll check KATV tonight. The Education Department continued its silence today on what Education Commissioner Johnny Key intends to do, if anything, about Dexter Suggs, kept on as interim school superintendent of the Little Rock District after the state booted the school board and took over the district.

As we've written before, Blue Hog Report's discovery of similarities in Suggs' doctoral dissertation and two other earlier works is not his only problem. His mishandling of school organization and an epic blunder in pushing good teachers at Jefferson Elementary have already stirred behind-the-scenes efforts aimed at his removal.

UPDATE: Strong report from KATV. Author specifically says her paper misused and Suggs had no permission to use it. Suggs in on-camera interview categorically says otherwise.

BUT GET THIS: The Arkansas Department of Education referred questions to the Little Rock School District. The state is running the LRSD. Johnny Key is Dexter Suggs' direct supervisor.


Hello Max, thanks for the inquiry.

Please be assured that I will keep you in the loop of anything that may develop.


Friday, April 17, 2015 - 16:40:00

Parents of slain Bella Vista child had parental rights terminated on multiple other children in 2005

click to enlarge RED FLAGS: Mauricio and Cathy Torres had several children removed from their home by a Jonesboro court a decade ago, yet DHS seemed to have missed that fact when investigating a maltreatment allegation in 2014. - KNWA
  • KNWA
  • RED FLAGS: Mauricio and Cathy Torres had several children removed from their home by a Jonesboro court a decade ago, yet DHS seemed to have missed that fact when investigating a maltreatment allegation in 2014.

According to multiple sources familiar with the family, Mauricio and Cathy Torres, the Bella Vista couple arrested earlier this month for the rape and murder of their 6-year-old child, had at least five other children removed from their custody by a Jonesboro court in 2004 or 2005.

It was previously known that Isaiah Torres, the boy who died in his parents' care on March 29, 2015, had two young sisters, and that the Department of Human Services had investigated two allegations of child maltreatment against Mauricio and Cathy in early 2014. Those reports were found unsubstantiated by DHS caseworkers at the time. DHS also disclosed last week that there had been at least two prior maltreatment cases regarding the family in 2002 and 2004. Isaiah and his two sisters would not have been born at that time, indicating that there were other children in the care of the Torres family when those incidents occurred.

Indeed, multiple individuals have now told the Arkansas Times that Mauricio and Cathy had at least five children in their care in the early 2000s, at which point they were living in Jonesboro. Four were Cathy's children (by two other fathers), and one was a natural child of Cathy and Mauricio. There also may have been a sixth child, according to one account.

As with all things related to child welfare, the exact facts are shrouded in confidentiality requirements; few records are public when it comes to child maltreatment investigations.

The five (or six) children were adopted by other families in the Jonesboro area following the termination of the couple's parental rights in 2004 or 2005. That was shortly after the Jonesboro Police Department investigated Mauricio — who then went by the name Maurice —  on allegations of rape of a 4-year-old girl. The girl was Mauricio's stepdaughter — that is, one of Cathy's children by a different man. Incident reports from the Jonesboro PD indicate that criminal charges against Mauricio were never pursued by the local prosecutor's office, despite the fact that a judge evidently found enough evidence to involuntarily terminate parental rights on five children. "[The prosecutor's office] had reviewed the case very closely but, that their [sic] was insufficient evidence to proceed with issuing a warrant in regards to the case," wrote a Jonesboro detective.

Thurman Thompson is married to a sister of Cathy Torres and lives in Jonesboro today. Cathy "lived there all of her life, until she disappeared … about ten years ago," he said.

"Basically, they had their parental rights taken away for the other children," he said. And then, "they disappeared. We knew where the children [in Jonesboro] were, so we knew that they were cared for, but we had no idea where Cathy and Maurice had went. And we had not been contacted by them, nor had we tried to contact them, for over ten years." And then came news of the murder of Isaiah. The authorities contacted Cathy's mother and she in turn contacted the Thompsons, who took responsibility for collecting Isaiah's remains. Prior to that, Thompson stated, "we didn’t know any [other] kids existed."

That account was corroborated by Maurice Torres, a 19-year-old son of Mauricio from another marriage prior to his meeting Cathy. Maurice said that his father moved to Jonesboro from California around 2002, along with himself, his sister and their mother (Mauricio's first wife). They soon split up, and Mauricio then married Cathy. Maurice and his sister were left with their mother, but prior to their father's departure, he said that they both also suffered physical abuse at the hands of Mauricio Torres. 

"They never looked into it while we were living in the house," Maurice said. "But when he first showed up in court about Cathy’s little girl, things started coming to light about me and  [my sister]. ... Yeah. There’s so much that could have been done, it’s unreal. ... But as far as I can tell, he was able to talk his way out of everything." He said that he believes authorities were more inclined to believe his father because he was an occupational therapist who worked with children.

"They see a man who went to school to help kids — why would he try to hurt kids?" he said. As of today, Mauricio Torres' occupational therapist license is still listed as "active" at his home address in Bella Vista: License Verification
Maurice blames DHS for not doing more to prevent Isaiah's death. "If they actually did their job and followed up like they should, this could have been prevented. I mean, they had their parental rights taken away before Isaiah was even born, you know? Why was he able to get him?"

Amy Webb, a spokesperson for DHS, said that a past termination of parental rights "is definitely something that raises flags" but added that "just because there’s a prior history doesn’t always mean we should take those kids into care."

"There’s no automatics," said Cecile Blucker, director of the Division of Children and Family Services at DHS. She gave the example of a hypothetical 19-year-old girl who has her parental rights terminated for whatever reason. "She’s young, she's at a difficult stage in her life ... then, 10 years later, she has another baby, but her lifestyle is totally different. ... we wouldn't want to automatically go in and remove [the baby]. People do change, and that's why our goal with all children is reunification. It is only very rarely that we do fast track, automatic termination of parental rights, and those are the most egregious of cases.

"And there needs to be a court record that shows what all you've done to try to help this family get it together before a judge is going to terminate rights — because every parent has a right to have that decision appealed. So, you want the record to be strong enough that if they do appeal that the finding of the judge is upheld and not overturned."

But the DHS officials also seemed to acknowledge that with the Torres case at least — which has now undergone an internal review within the agency — something was missing from the 2014 maltreatment investigation.

"In this particular case, we did not have a complete picture of pertinent previous investigations at the time of the allegation in 2014," Webb said. She said that DHS attorneys have said the agency cannot be more specific, although Blucker did add that, "over a span of time, people could have divorced, remarried, so you’ve got different names, you’ve got different spellings of names ... there’s all kinds of different things that could complicate putting all the big picture together."

Webb said that DHS is looking at several policy changes as a result of the review of the Torres case, including additional staff training on performing searches within the DHS data system, changes to the data system itself and requiring local offices to keep unsubstantiated reports for a longer period of time. Currently, Blucker said, hard copies of documents pertaining to unsubstantiated reports of maltreatment are shredded after 30 days.

Thompson, the brother-in-law of Cathy Torres, said he believes DHS should have known about the abuse: "They should have known. If they’d done their job, in the least little bit, they would have known."

"We thought that DHS, if they did have any more children, would take them," he said. "We want people in Northwest Arkansas to know that Cathy was not representing our family. ... We were not just sitting back and letting this take place. We had no idea."

Thompson and his wife, who have three children of their own ranging from age 16 to 25, are now seeking custody of Isaiah's young sisters, whose existence they learned of only in the past couple weeks. "We immediately went to DHS and got approved for foster care, as soon as we got the news."

Blucker said that placement of children in such a case as this one must go through a process to ensure the safety of the children, including a thorough assessment of appropriate placement and, in some jurisdictions, court action.

This post has been updated substantially since its original publication.


More Arkansas Blog

Featured Videos


Today in Arkansas: Grading Arkansas Schools

Rock Candy

Friday, April 17, 2015 - 16:55:00

Little Rock Film Festival announces 2015 lineup

click to enlarge "White God"
  • "White God"

The Little Rock Film Festival announced the lineups to its World Shorts, Cinematic Nonfiction and Golden Rock Narrative and Documentary competitions this afternoon. The list includes Bob Byington's "7 Chinese Brothers" (starring Jason Schwartzman), Kornél Mundruczó's Cannes Film Festival award-winning "White God," Sundance award-winners "Cartel Land," "(T)ERROR" and "How to Save the World," National Lampoon documentary "Drunk Stoned Brilliant and Dead," and many more. 

The full lists are available at their website. More details soon. 


Friday, April 17, 2015 - 10:19:16

Selfies, 'Eluvium and Formation': What's up Friday night in Argenta: UPDATE

click to enlarge Collage "selfie" by Michael Church, at Mugs Cafe.
  • Collage "selfie" by Michael Church, at Mugs Cafe.

Mugs Cafe — sounds like a place to see mugs, right? You will 
click to enlarge "Formation Core Body," by LaDawna Whiteside, at Argenta Gallery.
  • "Formation Core Body," by LaDawna Whiteside, at Argenta Gallery.
this Friday night, when  you head to the cafe, 515 Main St. in Argenta, where "The Original Selfies — Artists Self Portraits" is on exhibit.

Mugs is just one of nine venues that will be open for Argenta ArtWalk, 5-8 p.m., this month: Also participating are Argenta Gallery, 413 Main St.; Argenta Community Theater, 405 Main St.; the House of Art, 108 E. 4th St.; the Argenta branch of the Laman Library, 420 Main St.; Greg Thompson Fine Art, 429 Main St.; First Presbyterian Church, 201 W. 4th St.; Claytime Gallery, 417 Main St.; and the North Little Rock History Commission, 506 Main St. That's a lot of ground to cover, but all are snug in downtown North Little Rock.

New shows include "Eluvium and Formation: Abstracted Landscapes," sculpture by Ed Pennebaker and paintings by LaDawna Whiteside at Argenta Gallery, and "Dennis McCann: A History" at the Laman library branch. First Presbyterian is showing "A Splash of Color," work by Angela Green, and Larry Pennington will show barrel-fired raku at Claytime. Vintage jewelry by Sparklythangs will be at the History Commission. Art Connection will show work by the paintings, prints, mixed media and jewelry by teen artists.

"Southern Landscapes," work by Walter Anderson, John Alexander, Carroll Cloar, Sheila Cotton, William Dunlap, Charles Harrington, Dolores Justus, Edward Rice, Kendall Stallings and Rebecca Thompson, continues at Greg Thompson Fine Art. 

Singer Charlotte Taylor will perform at ACT, where there will also be art on exhibit, and there will be an open mic session with Precious Palmer at the House of Art.

Just got a list of the artists appearing in the "Selfie" exhibition: Emily Moll Wood, Denise White, Byron Taylor, Kesha Stovall, Dominique Simmons, Bob Simmons, Steven Rockwell, M.J. Robbins, Bonnie Nickol, Greg Lahti, Kevin Kresse, Jeanie Hursley, Tanya Hollifield, Marianne Hennigar, Jim Harper, Diane Harper, Jennifer Freeman, Judith Faust, Tim Ellison, Michael Church, Sophie Boyd and Fran Austin.


Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 15:33:00

Silverpoint artist Susan Schwalb at UALR tonight, April 18

click to enlarge "Sandstorm V," silverpoint, gold leaf and acrylic by Susan Schwalb.
  • "Sandstorm V," silverpoint, gold leaf and acrylic by Susan Schwalb.

Susan Schwalb, who is credited with a renaissance in silverpoint and who was an inspiration to Arkansas silverpoint artist Marjorie Williams-Smith, will give a talk tonight at 6 p.m. in the Fine Arts Building (Room 161) of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 

And thanks to sponsorship by the Windgate Foundation, Arkansas artists will get the opportunity to take workshop with Schwalb for free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 18. Workshop participants will use silver and copper on a variety of drawing surfaces and grounds. For questions about the workshop email or call Williams-Smith at 501-569-3591.

How important is Schwalb's work? It's in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Gallery and the British Museum. 

In celebration of silverpoint, Hearne Fine Art Gallery and Greg Thompson Fine Art Gallery are jointly hosting the 2015 National Silverpoint Invitational, "Drawing with Silverpoint," May 6 to June 27. Public receptions are slated for 5-9 p.m. May 8 at Hearne and 5-9 p.m. May 15 at Thompson. 



More Rock Candy

Most Shared

Cover Story

A killing in Pocahontas

April 16, 2015
A killing in Pocahontas
A witness murdered, a drug ring exposed, a snake in a box. /more/


Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Arkansas Reporter

New anti-choice laws in Arkansas pose danger to women

April 16, 2015
New anti-choice laws in Arkansas pose danger to women
Thanks to junk science, risky prescriptions. /more/



© 2015 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation