The story is heartbreaking. A young boy, wrapped in a blanket, dead for hours, showing signs of severe malnutrition and physical abuse. His name was Daniel Aguilar. He was grossly underweight, had festering wounds, and had obviously suffered years of abuse.
Despite multiple calls of reported abuse to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services from 2009 to 2012, the child was not removed from his mother’s custody. According to the Los Angeles Times, two of his teachers reported suspected abuse in 2012. After investigating, both the police and LA County officials “determined the boy to be living in a safe environment.” It’s not clear if his mother withdrew him from school completely, but he is not recorded as attending a Los Angeles school from 2012 to the time of his death.
His mother has since been charged, and pled not guilty, to murder and child abuse resulting in death.
The case only amplifies recent issues with DCFS. In 2013, Gabriel Fernandez was found dead with horrifying injuries, including broken ribs, cracked teeth, bruises, and burns on his body. The boy was never removed from his mother’s care despite more than 60 complaints being filed against her. Several social workers are facing felony charges of child abuse and falsifying records as a result of the investigation into Gabriel’s abuse and death.
Unfortunately, only the most horrific cases make the news. Stories of foster abuse and failed investigations like these are plentiful. Last month, our firm obtained a $2.5 million settlement for a toddler who was brain damaged while in the Riverside foster care system. The toddler was removed from her mother’s custody and placed with an aunt who struggled to take care of the toddler. The relative called a County of Riverside hotline requesting the removal of the toddler. Officials did not respond, and ten days after the phone call, the toddler was admitted to the hospital with traumatic brain injuries.
County officials have a duty of care to protect the weakest members of our society. It is heartbreaking to see the many ways they have failed to protect these children.
If you or a loved one has been abused while in the foster care system, please contact us today at 888-212-0440 to speak with our lawyers.