Archive for child neglect

Justice For Christian, But How Many More?

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What a sad, messed up story. Christian is 13, 12 when he was arrested and he has spent almost two years in a juvenile facility waiting for a trial.

Nothing about Cristian’s life has been easy. He was born to a mother who was just 12 when she had him. She became pregnant at the age of 11 after being sexually assaulted by Cristian’s biological father. The father was imprisoned on charges directly related to her pregnancy and would later be described as having little to do with his son.

At the age of two, Cristian and his mother were placed in the same foster home after the “authorities found the toddler walking around dirty and naked outside a South Florida motel while his grandmother, who would have been about 34 at the time, nursed a drug habit inside.”

At just three years old there were indicators that Cristian had experienced more than just neglect. Department of Child and Family Services reported that Cristian, still only three, pulled down the pants of a six year old and simulated a sex act. No information was provided about where the three year old learned this behavior, but further information indicated that days prior to that he had caused the death of a kitten after it scratched him in the face. Though these behaviors strongly suggested that Cristian had experienced other types of abuse, nothing appeared to have been done about it.

Further indicators of sexual abuse were present when Cristian was five years old. It was alleged that he was found naked under a bed with his younger brother. The same year, it was also reported that Cristian was masterbating at school, drawing phallic symbols, and trying to pull down the pants of other children. Mental health evaluations were ordered by the court, but none of the records maintained by the Department of Children and Family Services stated they had taken place or that Cristian was provided with therapeutic treatment for the behaviors. Minimally, a more complete investigation into potential sexual abuse of Cristian should have been conducted.

You can read at the link what happened to him (that they know of) between 5 and 11. Sigh. It's what next that really gets my goat.

A few months later on March 14, 2011, deputies were called to the apartment: Fernandez' baby brother, 2-year-old David, had died at a local hospital. The medical examiner determined that the toddler had a fractured skull, bruising to his left eye and a bleeding brain.

Susana, then 25, admitted to investigators that she had left Fernandez, David and her other children home alone. When she returned, she said she found David unconscious. She waited eight-and-a-half hours before taking him to the hospital and searched "unconsciousness" online and texted friends during that time.

Susana also revealed that two weeks before David's death, Fernandez had broken the toddler's leg while wrestling.

Susana was charged with aggravated manslaughter; the medical examiner said David might have survived if she had taken him to the hospital sooner for the head injury. She pleaded guilty in March and could get 30 years.

Fernandez, who had first been questioned as a witness, was soon charged with first-degree murder. The other felony charge was filed after his 5-year-old half-brother told a psychiatrist that Fernandez had sexually assaulted him.

Christian is actually on the better side of our messed up juvenile justice system. He got a "reprieve".

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Jacksonville, FL – Friday, February 8, 2013 -- This morning the state of Florida agreed to greatly reduced charges in the case of Cristian Fernandez. Two years ago, the state had charged then-12-year-old Cristian as an adult for the death of his younger brother. The child was facing a mandatory minimum of life in prison without parole in the death of his 2-year-old half brother, David Galarraga.

As a friend of mine said, "Even though this kid was able to get a plea deal and only serve in a juvenile facility until he is 19, we as a country put kids this young for life without parole...just us and Somalia. Great company to be in!"

You can read more about Christian and other similar cases here.

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