LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A new report by the Chronicle of Social Change says that the LAPD failed to investigate more than 4,000 alleged cases of child abuse in 2018 and 2019.
Before he was even born, then 4-year-old Noah Cuatro’s mother was accused of fracturing his baby sister’s skull in two places.
The Los Angeles Police Department conducted an investigation, but the Los Angeles County District Attorney opted to not file charges. CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Cristy Fajardo says it was only the first of many failed opportunities. In his young life, the boy was apparently the victim of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
He was removed from the abusive home on two occasions and returned. Authorities knew Noah was the victim of neglect — at one point it was revealed he hadn’t gained any weight in seven months.
Social workers last saw Noah in late June. Two weeks later, on July 6, the 4-year-old Palmdale boy was dead.
Cuatro’s death has DCFS under the microscope again But did the LAPD miss an opportunity to save him? Did everyone?
The Chronicle of Social Change — a new site that reports on child welfare issues — is reporting this past spring just months before Noah’s murder. the county sent two allegations of sexual abuse and domestic violence in the Cuatro case to the LAPD.
“They may very well have gone but we they haven’t said so in the affirmative so could be a situation wherein the LAPD knew or at least was alerted that there was something going and didn’t respond,” said Daniel Heimpel with the Chronicle of Social Change.
Heimpel says data he obtained from the DA’s office also shows that while overall the LAPD is improving when it comes to investigating serious child abuse allegations, the last year-and-a-half the department still failed to look into 10 -13 percent of cases.
“These are referrals with some gravity,” Heimpel says, “These county has deemed necessary to get law enforcement’s eyes on, so you don’t go out to one of them it could be fatal.”
In Cuatro’s case it clearly was.
“It’s inexcusable,” says Brian Claypool.
He represents Cuatro’s great grandmother who is suing the county.
“If the Los Angeles Police Department received a report of Noah Cuatro being allegedly sexually abused that should have been immediately investigated. I’m talking within a few hours and we need an answer.”
A statement from Josh Rubenstein of the LAPD did not address specifics of the Chronicle report. But said in part, “Our officers and detectives work tirelessly to investigate claims of abuse however, we cannot make a broad brush comment without looking at each individual case in context to understand the details of the investigations.”
Fajardo attended an event Sunday evening hoping to talk to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti about the report but he did not make himself available, she reported. His staff also did not return her calls requesting a comment.