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DCF Caseworker In Barahona Investigation Had Troubled Past

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MIAMI (CBS4) – The Department of Children and Families caseworker under fire for failing to report the possible of abuse of 10-year old twins Victor and Nubia Barahona to the police reportedly has a troubled past with the department which includes two previous “final” reprimands.

Almost a year ago, on February 15th 2010, a “final” reprimand was put in caseworker Andrea Fleary’s file for failures concerning an incident from summer of 2009, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.

In that case, Fleary had the responsibility for watching over a teenage girl who had been found twice in bed naked with her own father, who was also nude. According to the report, Fleary violated state law when she interviewed the girl without a police officer present. She also reportedly missed a statutory deadline to file a court petition declaring the girl a dependent of the state. In the girl’s file she also failed to note whether she had referred the teen to the state’s Child Protection Team which assess at-risk youth for signs of abuse or neglect.

Because of Fleary’s failures, her supervisor Kevin Ramos was cited for closing the abuse investigation without ensuring that the department’s procedures had been followed.

In 2003, Fleary received her first “final” reprimand for failures in judgement in handling a mother of six. According to the report on the incident, Fleary knowingly allowed the woman to have custody of her 3-year old child in spite of a court order which denied the woman custody. Fleary also reportedly let the 3-year old visit with a maternal grandmother who was also suspected of abusing the child. She also failed to remove the child until she was directed to by an administrator nearly two weeks later.

Just days before Nubia was found in the back of her adoptive father’s pick up truck in West Palm Beach, DCF received a call that he man had been abusing her and her brother.

The caller, a teacher, reportedly told DCF that she was told by a child who knew the family that the parents Jorge and Carmen Barahona kept Victor and Nubia bound with duct tape, releasing them only to eat.

During a custody hearing last week for Victor and two other children adopted by the Barahonas, a DCF attorney explained to Miami-Dade Judge Cindy Lederman that when their caseworker (Leary) went to check on the claims, the Carmen Barahona lied and refused to cooperate. Lederman then reportedly put the investigation was put on hold over the weekend.

A wide eyed Lederman then asked, “So we don’t do investigations on weekends?”

The following Monday, police found the body of Nubia in the nack of the truck and Victor, inside,  suffering from severe chemical burns.

According to DCF, Barahona and Carmen, 60, have been foster parents for decades.

Carmen Barahona reportedly told investigators that she and her husband had recently separated and that she had custody of the couple’s other two children — not Victor and his twin.

Lederman ordered that all three of the Barahona’s children be taken into custody and “no one that had any idea what was going on in that home will have any contact with these children whatsoever.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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