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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A little less than seven weeks ago, Gina Caze gave an emotional interview at her attorney’s office.
She criticized the Department of Children and Families for not doing enough to prevent the public suicide of her daughter, Naika Venant, who hanged herself on January 22nd while posting it on Facebook Live.
In a report released late Monday afternoon, DCF is now alleging that Caze watched the suicide and did nothing to stop it.
The report alleges that Caze, who also uses the name Gina Alexis, was following Naika while she was on Facebook Live for the two hours that preceded her suicide and, during that time, she wrote things that could be considered mentally injurious to her suicidal child and failed to seek help for her daughter.
Specifically, DCF cited a post on the Facebook feed allegedly from Naika’s mom.
It reads, in part, “…u keep crying wolf u dead u will get buried life goes on after a young person that doesn’t listen to their parents trying to be grown seeking boys and girls attention instead of her books.”
Stacie Schmerling is one of the attorney’s for Naika’s mother. She takes issue with both allegations – that Naika’s mother was watching the Facebook feed and that she commented on the feed before her daughter killed herself.
“The report contains inaccurate information,” Schmerling said. “The mother was absolutely not online at any time during her daughter’s suicide. She had no idea it was going on at all.
“The statement attributed to Naika’s mother was made after Naika was already deceased but Naika’s mother was told it was all a hoax,” Schmerling added. “That the suicide was a hoax and her daughter was not deceased.”
The allegations from DCF are in stark contrast to the emotion we saw from Naika’s mother in the days after her daughter died.
“I have trusted Florida’s foster care people to care for my baby, instead she kill herself on Facebook,” Caze told reporters at a news conference.
Naika and her mom had a complicated history. Her mother lost custody of Naika, got her back and then lost custody again.
The report released Monday reveals page after page of the traumatic incidents that Naika encountered in her short life – allegations of sexual abuse, corporal punishment at her mother’s hands and other problems.
There are allegations that Naika was sexually abused in foster care by a teenage boy and began acting out sexually.
Schmerling said Naika’s mom routinely told Naika’s case manager that her daughter was using social media in violation of a court order but it was to no avail.
The report stated Naika told a case worker prior to her suicide that her mother no longer wanted her, but Schmerling said that’s not true.
“At no point would she have said she doesn’t want to have any type of relationship with her daughter,” Schmerling said.
The attorney for Naika’s mother said Naikawas shuttled between 14 different foster homes in nine months and that none of those homes provided the type of care Naika needed.
In addition, Schmerling said the pair was supposed to undergo therapeutic visitation under a court order, but that never happened.
DCF is trying to learn from Naika’s case. They said they are increasing mental health training for DCF employees, training foster parents on the use of social media by kids in their care and making sure there are enough specialized therapeutic foster homes in the area.