NORTH WEBSTER — A caseworker for Child Protective Services was arrested after allowing unauthorized communication between family members.
Irene Renee Hapner, 46, 311 E. Madison St., North Webster, is being charged with official misconduct and obstruction of justice, both level six felonies.
Hapner was called in for an interview with Warsaw Police Department officers on Jan. 2. During the interview, Hapner admitted to having text/phone conversations with a mother who had her children taken removed by CPS in December 2016. The conversations took place on both work and personal phones.
According to Hapner, during an arranged visit with the children on Dec. 30, the mother and two other adults arrived unannounced. The visit was not authorized by CPS and lasted for two hours. Hapner admitted to not stopping the visitation upon the arrival of the unauthorized adults.
Officers took the mother’s cell phone into their custody for further investigation. Officers discovered over 250 text messages between Hapner and the unauthorized mother on the personal phone. Some of the text messages referred to the meeting time and location of the unauthorized visit previous to the meeting taking place.
Hapner advised that her phone number had recently changed but the cell phone had remained the same. Officers discovered an email from Hapner on Jan. 3 that stated, “I had to change my cell phone number tonight. I wanted to call you back, but when I factory reset my phone it deleted your number.” The message then went on to list Hapner’s new cell phone number.
Hapner was booked into the Kosciusko County Jail on Jan. 17 with a $5,250 surety and cash bond.