The four employees with the Department of Children and Family
Services are accused of minimizing the abuse suffered by Gabriel
Fernandez despite routine visits to his Los Angeles-area home and
warnings from his teacher that he was in danger, prosecutors said in
"These social workers allowed a vulnerable boy to remain at home and
continue to be abused," District Attorney Jackie Lacey said.
Fernandez's mother and boyfriend have been charged in the child's
2013 beating death, with prosecutors contending the boy endured
ongoing physical and mental abuse at their hands. He died of
multiple injuries, including a fractured skull, broken ribs, and had
burns over his body, authorities said.
Two social workers, Stefanie Rodriguez, 30, and Patricia Clement,
65, are accused of visiting the boy's home over a seven-month period
and falsifying reports that should have documented sign's of his
escalating physical abuse, prosecutors said.
Supervisors Kevin Bom, 36, and Gregory Merritt, 60, "should have
known that they were approving false reports that conflicted with
the evidence of Gabriel's deteriorating physical well-being," the
district attorney's office said in a statement.
The four were charged with one count each of child abuse and
falsifying public records, according to the office.
The social workers were arraigned on Thursday but did not enter
pleas, the Los Angeles Times reported.
[to top of second column]
Outside the court, Merritt and Clement declined to respond when
reporters asked how they intended to answer to the charges, the
The Department of Children and Family Services, department Director
Philip Browning told the Times in a statement that following Gabriel
Fernandez's death, he directed all four to be discharged from the
agency because they had "failed to perform their jobs."
Merritt appealed his discharge and was reinstated.
(Editing by Robert Birsel)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.