Once again, Florida lives down to its reprehensible record on "child protection"

by Andrew Vachss
Originally published on the Zero, December 11, 2011


Once again, Florida lives down to its reprehensible "child protection" record. State attorneys have charged 12–year–old Cristian Fernandez as an adult, and are holding him responsible for the death of his 2–year–old brother. He faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

This boy's mother was herself only 12 years old when she gave birth to him. And what became of her? She is in jail facing manslaughter charges for leaving the 2–year–old in Cristian's "care," and for concealing previous injuries to the toddler. In contrast, the human who sexually assaulted her was hit with the staggering sentence of ... probation!

That child-rapist not only avoided any prison time, but is described as an "absentee father" in news reports that also referred to him as "dad."

What was Florida's first clue that a little more intensive supervision of Cristian's "home" might be required? That the "dad" didn't pay child support? That the "dad" didn't defend his son? That instead of reporting the abusive human his former child–victim moved in with—after all, she was an adult herself by then, and entitled to make such choices—the "dad" just moved on? Didn't Florida even consider the obvious danger of using a 12–year–old boy as a "babysitter" for a toddler? Didn't they think that toddler might be "at risk"?

So, a female child is sexually assaulted. That child gives birth at 12! The magic of "family reunification" puts her baby back together with the child who gave birth to him. And the result is ... another dead baby.

At least this time, since he's being tried as an adult, Cristian will have a lawyer. The state of Florida doesn't appoint attorneys for children in abuse/neglect proceedings, but only non–lawyer volunteers. Of course, Florida doesn't have to worry about providing one for Cristian's little brother—he doesn't need one, not anymore. And the next time some Florida senatorial candidate runs on a platform to make America a "Christian country," the Devil might just die laughing.

© 2011 Andrew Vachss. All rights reserved.

Additional reading:

Florida mother of girl found dead in freezer (now) accused of torturing her 5 children for years
The Associated Press, October 28, 2015

Sexually trafficked girl recounts litany of horrors under DCF's watch
Miami Herald, July 3, 2015

Department of Children and Families Worker Allegedly Had Sexual Relationship With Teen Involved in Prostitution Ring: Report
NBC6 Miami, June 27, 2012