A woman has been charged with abusing a 4-year-old boy who was under her care in Norwalk that resulted in the boy being hospitalized in critical condition, officials announced Monday.
Relatives of boy allege he was beaten and tortured while in foster care and are demanding answers and accountability.
An investigation began on Oct. 28, when Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives responded to a home along the 14700 block of Pioneer Boulevard regarding the physical abuse of a boy.
The victim was gravely injured and was admitted to a hospital intensive care unit, officials said in a news release.
The boy’s foster mother, Gabriela Casarez, 26, was arrested the next day on suspicion of child abuse.
The case was presented to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office and Casarez, who weighs nearly 300 pounds, was charged with one count of assault on a child becoming comatose/paralysis and two counts of child abuse under circumstances or conditions likely to cause great bodily injury or death, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
She remains in custody on $1.2 million bail, inmate records show.
During a news conference Monday, relatives said the boy was placed in foster care by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services in April.
On Oct. 29, they were notified of the alleged abuse, but have yet to receive answers from the county or the social worker assigned to the case.
“We have no evidence that he was with anyone other than this foster family and there’s clear evidence that he was tortured and beaten into a coma,” the family’s attorney, Michael Alder, said. “Like every parent, you’re just horrified beyond belief. You don’t understand one, how it happened, but, two, why someone would do this.”
Alder is preparing to file a lawsuit against the county and is demanding an investigation.
The boy’s 2-year-old brother was also placed in foster care, but the family does not know where he ended up. They’re hoping to find out what led to the abuse on the older boy, and where the younger boy currently is.
“No kid deserves this in any care, under anyone’s care,” Maria Jacinto, the boy’s aunt, said. “We’re just asking for justice and for everything to come out.”
In a statement, DCFS officials did not comment specifically about the alleged abuse in this case, but indicated they take allegations seriously.
“DCFS thoroughly investigates allegations of caretaker abuse and neglect and, when appropriate, works closely with law enforcement to ensure children remain safe and that substantiated allegations are swiftly addressed in a court of law,” the statement read. “State law protects the confidentiality of records for all children and families who may have come to the attention of child protective services, and prohibits confirming or commenting on whether a child or family has been involved with the department.”