Gabriel Fernandez’s case dismissed against his social workers
After the Netflix release of the documentary The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez, the charges facing the social workers in relation to his death have been tossed.
In May 2013, Gabriel Fernandez died after months of abuse from his mother and her boyfriend.
Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Fernandez was charged with first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, and Isauro Aguirre, her boyfriend, was convicted of first-degree murder with a special circumstance of torutre and recieved the death sentence.
Gabriel went through excruciating amounts of torture.
He was forced to eat cat litter and feces, suffered B.B. gun shots, was burned with cigarettes, beaten and whipped.
Right before he died, he was hospitalized and had been found with multiple injuries, including broken ribs, a cracked skill, and B.B. pellet found in his lung and groin.
In 2016, The Los Angeles County district Attorney’s office charged the former county Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) employees for allegedly mishandling the case.
On July 16, a Los Angeles judge dismissed the charges against all four social workers who had been accused of failing to protect an 8-year-old that was brutally murder by his mother and her boyfriend. The action comes from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeals court.
The court of appeals ruled four social workers “never had the requisite duty to control the abusers and did not have care or custody of Gabriel,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed charges of child abuse and falsifying records in April 2016 against the four social workers: Stefanie Rodrigez, 35, Patricia Clement, 59, Kevin Bom, 41, and Gregory Merritt, 64. This was three years after Fernandez’s mother took her son's life.
The Superior Court Judge George Lomelo dismissed the charges against the social workers after denying a motion to drop the case in September 2018. Their decision on July 13, 2-1 ruled that the allegations about the social workers were based on “alleged nonfeasance,” which meant the prosecutors had to prove that the social workers were responsible for the ability to control Gabriel’s murderers, or had custody.
“Social workers play a vital role in society. We entrust them to protect our children from harm. When their negligence is so great as to become criminal, young lives are put at risk. We believe these social workers were criminally negligent and performed their legal duties with willful disregard for Gabriel’s well-being,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in 2016.
Since the national attention garnered by Gabriel Fernandez, it has shined light into DCFS. Two more Antelope Valley children’s cases DCFS was handling have come under fire.
Both families of the boys filed wrongful death lawsuits against the department.