LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A judge Monday ordered two former Los Angeles County social workers and their supervisors to stand trial on one count each of child abuse and falsifying records stemming from the death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy.
Stefanie Rodriguez, 31, Patricia Clement, 66, Kevin Bom, 37, and Gregory Merritt, 61 — were fired from the Los Angeles
County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) following an internal investigation into the May 24, 2013, death of Gabriel Fernandez .
Each faces a felony count of child abuse and falsifying and could be sentenced up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Fernandez’s mother and her then-boyfriend, Pearl Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre, are both awaiting trial on a capital murder charge in his death.
Social workers left Fernandez in the custody of his mother despite repeated visits to the family’s home in response to allegations of abuse, prompting a firestorm of criticism and increased scrutiny at DCFS.
Investigators say that at times over an eight-month period preceding his death, Gabriel was doused with pepper spray, forced to eat his own vomit and locked in a closet with a sock stuffed in his mouth to muffle his screams.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)