A court order to remove a 4-year-old boy from his parents’ Palmdale home was issued about two months before the child died under what authorities said were suspicious circumstances, it was reported Friday.
The order was issued on May 15 after a Department of Child and Family Services caseworker filed the request to remove Noah Cuatro from his parents’ custody, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Two days earlier, authorities were told the boy’s father, Jose, had a drinking problem and had kicked his wife and their children in public, according to anonymous sources who talked to the paper.
One of the sources told The Times that when Jose Cuatro was drinking he would tell Noah’s mother he doubted the boy was his child.
Around the same time, DCFS workers learned of allegations that Noah had been sodomized and had rectal injuries, according to a DCFS case file read to The Times by one of the sources. Still, caseworkers did not return Noah to foster care.
At the time of Noah’s death, he was under active supervision by the DCFS after more than a dozen calls to the child abuse hotline and police from people who said they suspected Noah and his siblings were being abused, the Times said.
The boy was removed from his parents’ custody in 2016 and lived in foster care until being returned to his parents in 2018, when new reports of suspected abuse arose, including one report that Noah had bruises on his back during a visit to Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar, the sources said.
Authorities were called about 4 p.m. Friday to the family’s home in the 1200 block of East Avenue S and Noah’s parents said the boy nearly drowned in the family’s pool, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said. The boy was taken to Palmdale Regional Medical Center, then transferred to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where he was pronounced dead on Saturday morning. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Noah’s parents were questioned, but not arrested and his siblings were taken into protective custody, sheriff’s Lt. Joe Mendoza said.
Noah’s death follows the deaths of two Antelope Valley boys — 10-year-old Anthony Avalos of Lancaster in June 2018 and 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale in May 2013 — who were found to have suffered severe abuse in cases that raised questions about the effectiveness of DCFS personnel and policies.
In June 2018, Fernandez’s mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, 34, was sentenced to life in prison without parole and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, 37, was sentenced to death for the torture killing of Gabriel.
In the Avalos case, his mother, Heather Maxine Barron, 29, and her boyfriend, Kareem Ernesto Leiva, 32, pleaded not guilty to killing and torturing the boy before his death.
In both cases, the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services received reports about abuse, but chose to leave each boy in the home with his mother and her boyfriend.
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