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Tortured tot's mom investigated in 2005

June 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Social workers said they knew as early as 2005 about claims of abuse involving a 5-year-old boy allegedly tortured at the hands of his mother and two other women. According to a government report, the investigation was inconclusive. The report says the boy was not checked again until a tipster called the department's child protection hotline on June 4.

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The boy remains hospitalized after suffering kidney failure caused by malnutrition.

A third woman charged in the case, 26-year-old La Tanya Monikue Jones, made her first court appearance Thursday. She was charged with child abuse. Authorities say she burned a little boy's hands so severely they are now disfigured.

She's a babysitter allegedly involved with two other women: Starkeisha Brown, the boy's mother, and Brown's live-in girlfriend, Krystal Matthews.

Thursday Eyewitness News spoke exclusively with County Department of Children and Family Services Director Patricia Ploehn.

"I've been in the department for more than 30 years, and truly this is one of the worst situations that I've seen in that 30 years," said Ploehn.

In 2005, the department investigated Starkeisha Brown and said her son was at risk, but the case was closed. After that, Brown was arrested for shoplifting and robbery, in and out of jail several times.

"Oftentimes clients that come to our attention, with the children and family services, have contacts with some of these other agencies, and I think it's critically important that we learn to communicate better amongst all of ourselves, so that we have a safety net for children and families like this," said Ploehn.

Several L.A. County supervisors held a conference call with Ploehn Thursday to discuss this matter. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky promised a full investigation

"We don't know who knew what, and when, and we're trying to find that out, and we're going to get to the bottom of it," said Supervisor Yaroslavsky. "I'm not going to speculate because I haven't seen all of the information, and the information right now is evolving."

This boy's tragic story is bringing out the best in some people.

"We have had over $10,000 pledged for this little boy," said Ploehn. "We've had offers from surgeons to do surgery for free, for doctors to do medical care for free, for tickets to events, for toys, for games, financial support. We've started a trust fund for this little boy."

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Trust Fund Information for the abused boy

Donations or contributions for this child may be sent in care of: Michael Wrice/DCFS
The Department of Children and Family Services
501 Shatto Place Room 301
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Please make checks payable to: DCFS/Trust Fund

 

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