CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - For law enforcement in Calcasieu Parish, 2011 presented some of the most shocking child abuse cases filed.
Children who were allegedly beaten till their ears were bleeding, children living in terrible conditions and children even burned by their parent or caretaker are just some of the situations Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office Sex Crimes Division had to deal with.
"Children are best with their mothers and fathers, unfortunately sometimes that's not always the safest thing for them," Sheriff Tony Mancuso said.
For Calcasieu Parish, it seems like the number of child abuse cases reported has increased over the past year. Mancuso thinks it's because more people are paying attention to it.
"Do I feel like we have an abnormal number in Calcasieu Parish? I would hope to think that if we do, it's not because we have more abuse cases, it's because we have people that care more here and make sure they turn the people they believe are doing this in," Mancuso said.
Because of an increase in child abuse cases, Mancuso said they've had to increase the number of detectives in the sex crimes division, which investigates all abuse allegations.
Those parents or non-parents accused of child abuse paid the price for it, but only if they were proven guilty.
Criminal Defense Attorney Todd Clemons said sometimes the charges are never even filed because "sometimes the District Attorney's office reviews the charges and they determine that there's not enough evidence to move forward."
Clemons said he's had child abuse cases where the parent or non-parent was falsely accused and his clients went to great expenses to defend themselves.
But he said it's not the only expense those falsely accused pay. Clemons said allegations against a person accusing of child abuse brands them for life.
"In my cases where my client was found not guilty," Clemons said "People still feel like 'well, yeah he must've done something."
Whether or not the allegations are true, both parties are affected. But Mancuso said the child should be the main focus.
"I just think we have to be vigilant when it comes to our children," Mancuso said. "We are the only thing that they have."
To report child abuse and neglect, call 1-855-4-LA-KIDS or local law enforcement.