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April 7, 2016: District Attorney Jackie Lacey Announces Charges Filed Against Four Social Workers In Death of Gabriel Fernandez

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Jane Robison, Assistant Media Chief
(213) 257-2000

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced today that four social workers were charged with child abuse and falsifying public records in the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez three years ago.

“Social workers play a vital role in society. We entrust them to protect our children from harm,” District Attorney Lacey said. “When their negligence is so great as to become criminal, young lives are put at risk.

“By minimizing the significance of the physical, mental and emotional injuries that Gabriel suffered, these social workers allowed a vulnerable boy to remain at home and continue to be abused,” District Attorney Lacey said.

“We believe these social workers were criminally negligent and performed their legal duties with willful disregard for Gabriel’s well-being,” District Attorney Lacey said. “They should be held responsible for their actions.”

A complaint for an arrest warrant filed on March 28 charges social workers Stefanie Rodriguez (dob 4/16/85) and Patricia Clement (dob 7/27/50), and their respective supervisors, Kevin Bom (dob 6/3/79) and Gregory Merritt (dob 9/29/55), each with one felony count of child abuse and one felony count of falsifying public records.

The four are scheduled to be arraigned sometime after 8:30 a.m. today at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Department 30, in case BA445260. Prosecutors will ask that bail be set at $155,000 for each defendant.

Deputy District Attorney Ana Maria Lopez with the Public Integrity Division is prosecuting the case.

Rodriguez, Clement, Bom and Merritt worked for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and had a legal duty to protect Gabriel from the time the DCFS case was opened on Oct. 31, 2012, until he was declared dead on May 24, 2013. He died from multiple injuries, including a fractured skull, broken ribs and burns over his body, prosecutors said.

Rodriguez and Clement are accused of falsifying reports that should have documented signs of Gabriel’s escalating physical abuse and the family’s lapsed participation in DCFS 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 Gabriel’s deteriorating physical well-being as contained in the child’s case file, allowing him to remain at home until his death.

If convicted, each defendant faces up to 10 years in state prison.