Arraignment was postponed Monday for 2 former social staff and their supervisors accused of falsifying data and youngster abuse stemming from the dying of an eight-yr-previous Palmdale boy whose mom after which-boyfriend are charged together with his homicide.
The social staff and two of their supervisors — Stefanie Rodriguez, 31, Patricia Clement, sixty six, Kevin Bom, 37, and Gregory Merritt, sixty one — have been fired from their jobs following an inner investigation into the Might 24, 2013, dying of Gabriel Fernandez.
All 4 are charged with one felony rely every of kid abuse and falsifying data and resist 10 years in jail if convicted.
On March 20, they have been all ordered to face trial following an in depth public listening to. Los Angeles Superior Courtroom Decide M.L. Villar discovered that the social staff and their superiors had an obligation to guard the boy and had loads of purpose to suspect that the teenager is perhaps significantly injured or killed.
“Purple flags have been all over the place, but no referrals have been ever made for a medical examination,” Villar stated, citing reviews of accidents by Gabriel’s instructor, who took photographs, and a welfare workplace employee.
“The abuse was clearly escalating. Reckless and felony negligence is discovered right here,” the decide dominated.
The boy’s mom, Pearl Fernandez, 33, and her then-boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, 36, are awaiting trial on a homicide cost stemming from her son’s demise. The District Lawyer’s Workplace plans to hunt the demise penalty towards the 2.
Gabriel’s dying prompted a firestorm of criticism of the Los Angeles County Division of Youngsters and Household Providers over studies that social staff repeatedly visited the household’s house in response to allegations of abuse however the boy was left in his mom’s custody.
One in every of Merritt’s two attorneys, James Barnes, advised reporters that Villar’s ruling was “completely incorrect legally,” contending the authorized obligation that the social staff had was to not the kid, however to regulate the mom’s conduct.
There was merely not sufficient proof for the Division of Youngsters and Household Providers to take the kid away from his mom, the protection lawyer stated.
He stated the escalating violence cited by the decide occurred months after Merritt had already closed the case file on Gabriel. The one grievance his shopper was conscious of was bruising on the boy’s backside, and fogeys are allowed by regulation to make use of corporal punishment, Barnes stated.
“My shopper and the others are being scapegoated,” he stated, calling the case an excuse for DCFS’s lack of adequate staffing to deal with youngster abuse instances.
Palmdale elementary faculty instructor Jennifer Garcia testified in the course of the preliminary listening to that she referred to as Rodriguez a number of occasions to report that Gabriel stated his mom punched him and shot him within the face with a BB gun. Her first name got here greater than six months earlier than Gabriel was killed.
An post-mortem confirmed the kid had a fractured cranium, a number of damaged ribs and burns over his…