MIAMI (CBS4) — The 7-year-old girl who blew the whistle on the alleged abuse of Nubia and Victor Barahona, just days before Nubia was found dead in her adoptive father’s pickup truck and her twin brother was found critically injured, will remain in the sole custody of her father.
During a hearing Tuesday morning, DCF’s top child welfare lawyer in Miami, Esther Jacobo, told the court that the girl’s mother, Jennifer Perez, “not only psychologically abused the girl by exposing her to torture of the twins; but also by threatening the child to keep quiet, and encouraged her to be complicit in the deception.”
Jacobo asked that the girl be sheltered by the state with no contact with the mother, Perez, or any blood relative on the mother’s side, which includes Carmen Barahona, the twins’ adoptive mother.
Circuit Judge Sandy Karlan ruled the girl’s biological father Yovani Perez, who is divorced from Perez, will continue to have custody of his daughter with DCF supervision.
“I’m angry with my ex-wife,” Yovani said. He also said that he believed Jennifer Perez knew what was going on with the Barahona twins.
Jennifer’s attorney, Mary Pena, said Jennifer is guilty of nothing.
“We are denying all of the charges,” Pena said. “As far as my client is concerned, we are denying all of the charges.”
The Barahona’s granddaughter is at the center of the Barahona scandal because she is the one who told an adult that the adopted twins were in danger. She said the children were locked in a bathroom, a shower curtain taped to the walls to trap them in the bathtub.
Other times, she saw the children forced to stand in garbage bins. The young girl is now being considered a child abuse victim herself for witnessing what could be months-long abuse on the twins, who were adopted by her grandparents, Jorge and Carmen Barahona.
Monday, the DCF investigator responsible for the Barahona twins’ welfare at the time the agency was warned about abuse was placed on paid administrative leave. DCF also created a Blue Ribbon Panel to investigate the Barahona family tragedy.
At a Monday morning news conference, DCF Secretary David Wilkins said Victor, who was doused with as-yet unidentified chemicals and suffered severe burns, is improving at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s burn center. Wilkins declined to discuss the boy’s condition further out of respect for his privacy and the confidentiality of medical records, he said.
Jorge Barahona has been charged with aggravated child abuse and attempted murder in Victor’s case. Autopsy results for Nubia are still pending.
Richard Joyce, an attorney for Carmen Barahona, announced that she is going to legally split from Jorge.
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