Death tolls rising: York County SC leaders talk opioid crisis
The Rock Hill mom of newborn twins has been charged with two counts of felony child neglect after she used heroin while pregnant, police said.
Shannon Diane Flaherty, 29, was served arrest warrants at the Moss Justice Center in York, said Det. Robert Smith of the Rock Hill Police Department. Flaherty already had been in custody on several charges, including narcotics possession and violation of probation, according to jail and court records.
She could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, South Carolina law shows.
Flaherty was on probation for a drug conviction at the time she was pregnant and using heroin, according to court and jail records.
Flaherty tested positive for drugs at the time the children were born, according to a police report.
The children were born addicted to narcotics, the police report said.
Rock Hill police received a referral from the DSS in April that the children had been exposed to illegal narcotics before birth, according to a Rock Hill police department incident report. Both children were placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, police reports show.
Police did not release the gender of the twins. Both were kept at Piedmont Medical Center after their birth in April and remain under the supervision of the S.C. Department of Social Services, Smith said.
Smith, a detective who specializes in cases where children are exposed to drugs, started an investigation in April and said he visited the hospital.
“Both children were shaking, crying and appeared extremely uncomfortable,” Smith said.
Smith obtained medical records for Flaherty and the children, according to police reports. Flaherty then admitted to police that she had used heroin while pregnant, according to the incident report.
Police in York County, Rock Hill, Clover and York have charged at least 18 parents since July after children tested positive for narcotics. All but one of the arrests have been mothers, South Carolina court records show. One father was arrested, according to police reports and court records.
The children have ranged in ages from newborn babies and infants to toddlers.
The York County Sheriff’s office and Rock Hill Police Department have assigned detectives to investigate cases where social services and law enforcement receive reports of children testing positive for drugs. Walter Beck, a detective with the sheriff’s office, also specializes in cases where children test positive for drugs.
Many of the cases have come from referral by DSS but others came from reports of drug use that police received from concerned citizens, police reports show.
The 16th Circuit Solicitor’s Office prosecutes the criminal cases against parents charged with narcotics use. Solicitor Kevin Brackett said the safety of the children is the top priority in drug cases where parents use narcotics.
“It is always tragic when children are put in this position,” Brackett said.
A conviction for unlawful neglect of a child carries up to 10 years in prison under South Carolina law.
Flaherty remains in the York County detention center on a $66,735 bond, jail records show.