News & Politics

Food Network Star Denied Bail in Murder Case of Foster Care Victim Victoria Rose Smith

(Image: By permission of Michelle Urps)

Winner of Food Network’s America’s Worst Cook, Ariel Robinson and her husband were denied bail on Friday in the death of Greenville, South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) ward Victoria Rose Smith. Earlier news reports and the DSS had claimed that Smith was adopted by the Robinsons, who were both arrested for her murder but that turned out to be false. DSS was in custody of Smith at the time of her death and the biological family alleges that they never bothered to check on Smith and her brothers who were in the care of abusers.

Fox reported the gruesome details that emerged at the bond hearing about how the three-year-old toddler died.

The toddler suffered from extensive injuries, including deep purple bruising on her abdomen, bruising on her ear, abrasions on her face, bruising down her back, and bruising up and down both legs after her death on January 14, prosecutors told the judge. The coroner ruled that the child died from blunt force trauma, but prosecutors said Ariel had told first responders she believed the girl had drowned from drinking too much water.

Prosecutors revealed during the hearing that Ariel claimed Victoria, referred to as Tori, was having stomach issues after eating something and then drinking several cups of water. Ariel claims the child suddenly went limp and that she began attempting to perform the Heimlich maneuver on the child, fearing that she was choking. Ariel also claimed she started pressing on the girl’s stomach, which likely caused the bruising to the abdomen, as she asked Jerry to call 911.

When asked about the bruises to the other parts of Tori’s body, Ariel reportedly told them that the child’s 7-year-old brother, who was also in the Robinson’s care along with another sibling, hand anger issues and caused those injuries. Prosecutors said they asked the boy’s principal if the child boy had anger issues, and the principal reportedly told them he was a happy child who never showed any outward signs of aggression.

PJ Media reported that DSS had stonewalled the biological family that wanted custody of the body in order to bury her. After much public pressure, DSS relented and allowed the biological family and former foster parents to bury the child. You can hear my podcast on the topic if you sign up for our VIP subscription service.

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If the justice system was fair, DSS would be under arrest and on trial as well as the Robinsons for their role in this child’s death. It was DSS that placed her with the Robinsons in the first place with what seems like very little investigation into who they were. The family spokesperson Michelle Urps told PJ Media that the family believes DSS was negligent in Smith’s death.

We are standing firm that we do not feel proper vetting of this family was done. Clearly, there was some psychological testing that could have found she was not going to be a fit parent as well as we have discovered that their home was put into foreclosure the month [the children] were placed in their home. Due to COVID-19 the foreclosure had not been finalized. We also found out that when they were moved into this home they had only known them for two hours. There were two one-hour visists with [the Robinsons] and then they were moved into the home.

The family wants DSS investigated. Unfortunately, the only thing that will happen—if history teaches us anything—is DSS will conduct its own “investigation” into itself and will find no wrongdoing. There is no other agency that supervises social services but the Department of Health and Human Services, which is the same cast of characters that all operate on the same budget. They are neither objective nor independent. A true investigation should be done by US Marshals or a police force that is not connected to the state budget.

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This is the real issue with America’s child welfare system. The fox is guarding the hen house and no one has any motivation to change it. It is likely the American public will never see the file on Smith and what actions DSS took or what evidence they had to remove her from her mother and put her in the care of the Robinsons, where she died a horrific death. The government allows DSS to keep all their files on children, even dead ones, a secret from the public. They claim this is for the privacy of the child. When the child dies, all concerns of privacy should be moot.

The only way for this family to get any answers is to sue DSS and get discovery which would force open the internal documents to scrutiny. This is very expensive. Attorney Shawn McMillan, who has successfully sued child services all over California to the tune of millions of dollars, needs a $10,000 retainer just to take a case. The costs go up from there. There are very few families targeted by DSS who have that kind of money. On the contrary, most victims of DSS are living at or below the poverty level which is what alerted DSS to their family in the first place. In America, being poor is often confused with “neglect.” Instead of helping families, social services rip them apart. Families that do try to raise funds to fight DSS are labeled by the DSS attorneys as “attention-seeking” and their efforts are used against them in court to prove they are bad parents.

These are the lost families of America who have no hope of recovering their children or seeking justice because our justice system is set up to punish the poor by disallowing access to the remedies they need to fight for their rights. McMillan’s cases prove that when a family has access to DSS records they find falsified warrants, false allegations, cover-ups, and corruption that leads to families being destroyed and lives lost.

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The families of America terrorized by social services need better options than what they have. Where are the lawyers of character and morality who can see an opportunity to sue the government and win big and help families at the same time? Why can’t anyone come up with a solution for these folks that does not require massive down payments? McMillan has proven that suing social services is extremely lucrative because of their repeated malfeasance. Where are the lawyers who can see both the good business of suing the government and the moral rightness?

I have long thought that modeling a legal fund for victims of DSS/CPS after the Home School Legal Defense Aid is the answer. Homeschooling parents pay a yearly fee of around $150 to have access to legal aid if they should ever need it against the state. Where are the lawyers who can organize such a fund that will fight for the rights of Americans to parent their own children? It is a much-needed lifeline that does not exist. In the meantime, the children continue to suffer in a secretive system that is failing them.

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