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I Would've Taken Him. 
20th-Jun-2008 10:31 am
5-year-old boy suffered 'unbearable' abuse

L.A. agencies blamed for repeatedly missing chances to rescue victim
LOS ANGELES - The little boy's body was a study in pain.

He was covered in cigarette burns, including to his genitals. He couldn't fully open his hand because it had been burned on a stove. His tooth was broken with a nerve exposed. And he had been made to sit in his own urine and feces, U.S. authorities say.

As the 5-year-old remains hospitalized by kidney failure brought on from malnutrition, two county supervisors are blaming welfare and law enforcement agencies for missing earlier chances to rescue the child from what police say were months of "unbearable psychological and physical abuse."

The case came to light after a woman called a hotline June 4, saying the boy told her at a commuter train station that his mother had burned his hand on top of a stove.

Summoned to a county Department of Children and Family Services office, authorities say Starkeisha Brown brought her baby sitter's healthy 4-year-old son and daughter and tried to pass them off as her own.

Brown and her girlfriend ran from the office when a social worker questioned whether the child was really Brown's, authorities say. The boy was found nearby, after someone called 911 to report that a sick child with bruises had been left with a homeless person.

'Tremendous will to live'
The child was taken to a hospital with a round belly common in cases of severe malnutrition. Police were shocked by injuries that showed the abuse was horrific and prolonged.

"I've never seen anyone with these kinds of injuries who has lived," Assistant Police Chief James McDonnell told reporters last week. "This kid must have a tremendous will to live, to be able to still hang on despite what he's been through."

The anonymous June 4 call was the second public tip that the boy was at risk.

DCFS is investigating why no one followed up an initial case review after a tip in November 2005 that the boy was neglected and at risk while in the care of his grandmother, who took the boy in after his mother was arrested for shoplifting.

'Why was there no intervention?'
An array of other agencies missed their chance to intervene, said Gloria Molina, a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, including the state Department of Corrections and the county's Department of Probation, Department of Mental Health and foster care agencies that had case files for Brown and the two other women charged in the case.

"Why was there no intervention? It shouldn't have to be from the hotline," Molina said.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky blamed a "silo" mentality of agencies that do not reflexively alert one another to potential risks posed by cases.

Warning signs
Others missed chances to stop the torture. The boy's great-grandmother and two caretakers told the Los Angeles Times they saw scratches on his body, a large knot on his forehead and other warning signs but didn't want to believe he was abused.

"I don't really know what I was thinking," Donna Hunter, who took turn taking care of the child with his great-grandmother while his mother was in prison.

Brown, 24, turned herself in to police June 13. A woman authorities describe as her live-in girlfriend, 24-year-old Krystal Matthews, was arrested later. Both were charged with one count each of torture, child abuse, corporal injury to a child, dissuading a witness, and two counts each of conspiracy. They face 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Brown's attorney, Donald Herzstein, and a public defender assigned to Matthews both declined comment earlier this week.

Criminal records
Both women have criminal records. Matthews was sentenced to three years of probation earlier this year for assault with a deadly weapon, according to court documents.

The boy's mother served 2 1/2 years in prison for felony robbery of an elderly woman in 2003 and for petty theft.

A third woman, LaTanya Jones, 26, was arrested in the case Tuesday. Authorities said they believe Jones, described as a baby sitter, disfigured the boy's hand by holding it to the stove. She has been charged with child abuse, corporal injury to a child and conspiracy to dissuade a witness.

Jones was ordered held on $180,000 bail Thursday. A sheriff's deputy at the jail did not know if she had an attorney.

Jones' son, who Brown allegedly tried to claim was hers, and a daughter have both been taken into protective custody.

As for the 5-year-old, authorities describe him as withdrawn and shy but plays with people he trusts. He has a healthy appetite and began walking over the weekend with a slight limp. His burnt hand is healing well and regaining its range of motion.
I would've taken him. I'd have given anything to have taken this baby boy and prevented him from ever knowing any part of this. I don't want to know anyone that wouldn't have.

I want five minutes alone in a closed room with a baseball bat and each of these cunts individually tied down to rusty chairs. Just five minutes is all I need.

As for the system that had tips and clues and was in every position to have prevented this, you bastards have this baby's blood on your hands and I hope you fucking choke to death on your next meal.
20th-Jun-2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
i don't understand humanity sometimes
20th-Jun-2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
I can think of several other charges that should have been brought against those women
there are lessons to be learnt here....I hope someone recognizes them
20th-Jun-2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
That's a painful story to read. One wonders what role-models the woman had that taught her how to treat children. I hope the child finds a new home where he will be treated as a human deserving of love rather than an inconvenience.

(Deleted comment)
20th-Jun-2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
Sick fucking bitches. Grrrrrrrrrr!!!
20th-Jun-2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
wow. :( reminds me of this guy. he's written several books about his story and they're absolutely heartwrenching.

i don't understand why people do this to children, i really don't. if you don't want your child, there are plenty of people in the world who will take them and give them the love they deserve.
20th-Jun-2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
So would I. And I spent two years with them trying to do just that.

When they wouldn't certify us - and making us attend therapy to assuage their comfort levels - and we investigated an international adoption?

Dropped us like a hot rock. WE were wrong. *eyeroll*
20th-Jun-2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
He is safe now. I am grateful for that. His chances of getting into a good family are increased now.

I can't go into the stuff I'd like to impose upon those that did the torturing. Plenty of people have had it really rough, and they don't do this to children or even bugs. That excuse only goes so far, for me. I suppose the nicest thing I can think of is, instead of torturing the women, simply put a nice neat bullet hole into their foreheads so they can be free to move onto the next realm, if there is one, since they failed so miserably in this one. Nice try...next!

20th-Jun-2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
I'm so shocked I can't say anything coherent. Not that it's the first time I read a story like this...drastic cases of child abuse usually happen inside the poorest social groups of my society, not that poverty is really an excuse.

Darina from Bulgaria
21st-Jun-2008 05:37 am (UTC)
I've seen abuse like this as a foster parent and the kids were sent home again.The parents went on to reabuse.

The state needs to weigh the reality of an abusive parent's ability to change (most don't)over the right of the child to not be beaten, burned, raped, neglected,starved and all manners of abuse I have seen.

We provided a loving home for so many children for 7 years, yet it was a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed.

These children by the age of 5 are so damaged I wonder today, 20 years after leaving the foster care system where these children are and how they are coping with the after effects of their child abuse? Because to take them out of an abusive situation, then give them a taste of a loving,secure, safe, caring environment, then yank them out and put them back in danger to me is just as abusive and psychologically damaging as what the parents do because CPS should be stopping this abuse. They do have the power to terminate parental rights but rarely do so.

I do hope this child because of the publicity will find a loving, permanent home with people who can try to help heal the mess this boy will be living with in his head as he grows up.

The authorities give stiffer sentences to people who hurt animals than they do children. This is just tragic beyond words.
21st-Jun-2008 06:31 am (UTC)
There have been several like cases here in the UK; the Victoria Climbié case is one pretty horrific one. All you can do is set an example with every single case that comes up.

The flip side of this is overzealous social workers who try to remove children on flimsy or even supernatural evidence. An egregious example is what happened on South Ronaldsay years ago.

It's all very sad no matter which outcome occurs. Those parents and carers who do these things must have the book thrown at them.
21st-Jun-2008 06:35 am (UTC)
Oh, PS, while I'm normally happy that we don't have children or are responsible for them, I too would have given anything to have been able to take such a child in, adopt him or her, and provide a normal life. I'm certain that millions of couples would feel the same way.
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