MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Attorneys representing a nine-year old boy have filed a lawsuit in Broward County against Florida’s Department of Children and Families, claiming negligence and culpable negligence. They said that DCF, “swept the family’s case under the rug,” which lead to a deadly rampage in February 2012.
As a victim the boy’s name is being withheld. Back in February of 2012, the boy’s father, William De Jesus, drove his mother, Diana De Jesus, along with himself and older brother down to South Florida from the Daytona area. The family ended up in a Deerfield Beach R.V. park where De Jesus held his family and a visiting Canadian couple hostage in the Canadian’s R.V.
“This case is an example of the department’s continually refusing to acknowledge and investigate red flags that come up in these cases time and time again and result in catastrophic results like we have here today”, said Joel Fass, one of the boy’s attorneys from Ft. Lauderdale.
After an hour-long stand-off, William De Jesus shot and killed the Canadian man before eventually stabbing his own wife, their two boys, and then killed himself. The Canadian woman was unharmed. Diana De Jesus and their then-seven year old boy survived the attacks. But, the boy’s nine-year old brother, who was autistic and couldn’t speak, did not.
The surviving boy, the one now suing DCF, later told investigators his mother watched everything and did nothing to protect him and his brother.
David Bazerman is the boy’s court-appointed guardian. Bazerman choked down emotions, explaining that the boy needs continuous treatment, care and specialized programs after the trauma he has endured.
The De Jesus family had long been on the DCF’s radar, including reports in 2007 when the couple argued about the father’s drinking. William De Jesus choked his wife and then punched a hole in the boys’ bedroom door. Police officers also reported hearing the father threaten to kill the mother if she left and took the boys with her.
DCF even briefly removed the two boys from the family home, but later reunited them. Attorneys point out the agency was clearly aware of the unstable, violent environment, including the boys accusing their father of sexually abusing them.
“We certainly can’t rely on the state to protect them. They failed them from the beginning. They failed them up until the day of the incident. And I have no faith that they won’t continue to fail them as well as others in care,” said Bazerman.
The boy’s attorneys said they hope this lawsuit helps repair his life with life-long support.
“This department needs to wake up and make sure it manages these contracts so the children do not fall through the cracks of the system,” said attorney Howard Talenfeld. He called this one of the most egregious cases he’s seen in 25 years.
The lawsuit also names community-based providers The Devereux Foundation Inc., Community Parnership for Children Inc., Heartland for Children Inc. and the Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services, Inc.
Spokeswoman Alexis Lambert at DCF headquarters in Tallahassee tells CBS 4 News the department received a courtesy copy of the lawsuit and is now reviewing the 24-page document.