Foster Mother Charged as 4-Year-Old Boy is in Critical Condition at a Hospital

9November 2021

Speaking out for the first time since her nephew has been in the intensive care unit, Maria Jacinto puts the blame squarely on the LA County agency meant to protect young children from harm.

“No kid deserves this under anybody’s care,” said Maria Jacinto, the victim’s aunt. “If you were invested in these kids or looked out for these kids, this wouldn’t happen.”

She shared this photo of her 4-year-old nephew, his name being withheld for privacy. She says he’s been in a coma for a week, after a beating so bad he still hasn’t woken up. He remains in critical condition.

The LA County Sheriff’s Department special victims unit the boy’s foster mother, identified as Gabriela Casarez, at her home in Norwalk on Oct. 29. Prosecutors filed three felony charges against the foster mother, who remains in jail.

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“There’s clear evidence he was tortured and beaten into a coma,” said attorney Michael Alder, representing the family.

Alder says he’s working with the family to formally file a complaint against the Department of Children and Family Services, arguing the social worker assigned to this boy’s case failed him, and allegedly allowed his foster mom to abuse him.

“At this point, we’re being stonewalled and we don’t have any information,” Alder said.

DCFS wouldn’t comment on the case, citing state law that protects the confidentiality of records for all children and families involved.

But in a statement, a spokesperson said this: “licensure of resource families involves rigorously examining the suitability of potential families to identify safe, nurturing and supportive homes for children in foster care.”

The family says the boy also has a younger brother in the system but that they’ve been unable to have any contact since losing them both in April, and as they don’t have guardianship of the 4-year-old, they also don’t have access to him as he lays in his hospital bed.

The LA County Sheriff’s department’s special victims unit is investigating.

“What could they have done so badly for you to hurt these kids?” Jacinto said. “We want justice and we want information. We want to know why.”

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