Reporting Peter D’Oench
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The mother and father of a 9-year-old boy who was found bruised, naked and severely malnourished while wandering in the street near his North Miami Beach home were back in court on Wednesday.
The parents, 34-year-old Marcee “Redd” Strong, and 39-year-old Edward Bailey, agreed to a consent plea in this case in which they admitted there was a problem in their home that lead to the boy’s harm and medical neglect and required the Department of Children and Families to intervene.
Under the deal, the parents were cleared of some wrongdoing but they also admitted to having some responsibility in this case in which the child required some special care. By asking for help from the state, the parents admitted that they could not provide for his special needs.
The consent plea clears the way for the state to propose a plan under which DCF could properly call for all four of the couple’s children who are now under DCF care.
The consent plea was worked out after Juvenile Court Judge Cindy Lederman told an attorney for DCF that the language of the original consent plea was not strong enough.
“We’re ignoring major harm to this child and to not even say that this child was harmed in the plea is unconscionable.”
“He was clearly beaten over and over and over again all over his body,” said Lederman.
“I don’t know how anyone did not intervene and say that there was something wrong and that he needed to be hospitalized.”
“What about evidence of all the bruises marks. He has 100 of them all over his body,” said Lederman.
DCF Christine Lopez-Acevedo said, “Yes, to a certain extent they (the parents) could have done more, not because they didn’t seek medical attention. They did.”
“The kids beat up on each other and they (the parents) are not doing enough to stop this. Maybe they don’t know how.”
“How could this happen?” asked Lederman. “This child had so many marks over his body. You tell me it’s not neglect and you tell me there’s no risk of harm.”
At a hearing in late January, a therapist testified that the boy self mutilates and eats his own skin.
Strong and Bailey, who have been charged with aggravated abuse and child neglect, were in jail until this week, when they posted their bonds of $65,000 and $60,000 respectively.
They refused to say anything to CBS4’s Peter D’Oench when they left court. Their attorney told D’Oench that he was not allowing them to comment.
Outside the Juvenile Justice Courthouse, DCF spokeswoman Lissette Valdes-Valle told D’Oench, “The parents consented to a plea which means they will not go to trial. The family admits there were situations in the home that they need assistance with. The next step is to come up with a case plan.”
“At this point the children are in foster care. The end result of this case plan would be to have the family reunified,” said Valdes-Valle.
“We’re always very concerned,” she said. “There might be a misconception that we don’t care but we are human beings. Of course we’re concerned. This breaks our heart.
Our team along with the team at Jackson Memorial Hospital and our Guardian Ad Litem team and the case managers, we care about all the children in this case as we care for all children in the state of Florida.”
CBS4 also learned that the 9-year-old boy has been moved to a special crisis floor at Jackson Memorial Hospital because of behavior problems.
It was January 28th when he was discovered outside his home. Police say he was 35 pounds and about the weight of child who is between three and five years old.
Some say it’s a miracle the child survived and a picture that was shown of him in court in late January showed his frail legs. At the time, Judge Lederman said, “He looks like he came from Auschwitz.”
North Miami Beach Police called this one of the most severe cases they have ever seen.
Police say Strong admitted to failing to protect the child from others and not properly supervising him and getting the medical attention he needs in a timely manner.
Strong did deny abusing the child.
Police say Bailey claimed he did not abuse the child but admitted he allowed others to do so without his intervention.
Strong and Bailey have a total of six children. A fifth child, a girl, is in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice and is in the care of a caretaker, says DCF. The 6th child is 18 years old.
D’Oench also tried to get comment from the parents at their home in the 14-hundred block of NE 152nd Street. But a neighbor told D’Oench that they had moved.