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Social workers charged with child abuse for leaving boy with abusive parents until he was killed

By Mason White 1:45 PM April 8, 2016
Gabriel Fernandez 

By: Mahesh Sarin
(Scroll down for video) Four social workers were arrested on a charge for child abuse after allegedly leaving a boy with his abusive parents until he was killed, police in California said.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced that they have charged 31-year-old Stefanie Rodriguez, 66-year-old Patricia Clement, 37-year-old Kevin Bom, and 61-year-old Gregory Merritt, with child abuse and falsifying public records.

They were booked into jail, and bail was set at $155,000 each.

If convicted, each suspect faces up to 10 years in prison. The four social workers were accused of being responsible for the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.

The social workers minimized the significance of the physical, mental and emotional injuries that Fernandez suffered at the hands of his parents, a court was told.

The social workers allowed the vulnerable boy to remain at home and continue to be abused.

Prosecutors said that these social workers were criminally negligent and performed their legal duties with willful disregard for Fernandez’s well being.

Rodriguez, Clement, Bom, and Merritt, worked for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, and had a legal duty to protect Fernandez from the time the case was opened until he was declared dead.

He died from multiple injuries, including a fractured skull, broken ribs and burns over his body.

Rodriguez and Clement are accused of falsifying reports that should have documented signs of Fernandez’s escalating physical abuse and the family’s lapsed participation in efforts to provide help to maintain the family.

Prosecutors allege that Bom and Merritt knew or should have known that they were approving false reports that conflicted with the evidence of Fernandez’s deteriorating physical well being as contained in the child’s case file, allowing him to remain at home until his death.

The parents, Pearl Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre, were charged with murder.