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House Panel Supports Payment In Barahona Case

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A House committee has approved paying $3.75 million as part of the settlement of a high-profile case in which a 10-year-old girl was found dead in the bed of a pickup truck along Interstate 95 and her twin brother was found with severe injuries from abuse.

The bill, approved by the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, would carry out a settlement reached by the Department of Children and Families in the 2011 death of Nubia Barahona and injuries to her brother, Victor.

The twins were placed as foster children in the home of Jorge and Carmen Barahona and were later adopted by the couple. Nubia Barahona’s decomposing body was found in February 2011 in the bed of her father’s pickup truck on Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County. Victor Barahona was convulsing in the truck, as both children had been doused with toxic chemicals.

The Department of Children and Families agreed to pay $5 million to the estate of Nubia Barahona and to Victor Barahona. It paid $1.25 million but needs legislative approval of “claim” bill to pay the remainder of the $3.75 million.

“God bless our children,” said bill sponsor Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami. “May this never happen again.”

A special master’s report recommending approval of the claim bill pinned blame on the Department of Children and Families for not helping prevent abuse of the children.

“In sum, the cumulative effect of the evidence shows that DCF should have known the twins were being abused and failed to prevent the situation from continuing,” Special Master Parker Aziz wrote. “DCF employees performed their tasks in a mere perfunctory fashion, filling out forms and bubbling in boxes without adequate critical thinking and analysis of the data they were collecting. The department and its employees had a duty and breached that duty.”

A similar Senate bill, filed by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has been unanimously approved by two Senate panels and is expected to be heard this week by the Appropriations Committee.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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