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Social Worker, Supervisor Charged in Death of Detroit Toddler as Allegedly ‘Grossly Negligent’

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Elaina Brown (left), Kelly Williams
Detroit Police Department via AP(2)

Two Michigan social workers were charged with child abuse and manslaughter for allegedly failing to protect a 3-year-old boy who was found dead in late May after they’d identified the child as “vulnerable” and “at risk” a month earlier.

Elaina Brown, a 24-year-old worker with the state’s Child Protective Services, and her boss, 47-year-old Kelly Williams, were both arraigned Monday in the death of Aaron Minor, according to a statement by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

Aaron’s decomposing body was found in a bed inside his apartment on May 25. Subsequently, his mother was identified as a patient in a psychiatric hospital, according to authorities.

In August, Deanna Minor was charged with her son’s murder. She is also facing child abuse charges.

Minor has a competency hearing scheduled for Nov. 30. She has yet to enter a plea to the charges and court records do not indicate if she has retained an attorney.

A police statement alleges that both Brown and Williams failed to develop a safety plan for Aaron after determining he was at a continuing risk of harm living with his mother.

Authorities further allege both women ignored reports that Aaron’s mother was increasingly incapable of caring for him because of her mental health issues.

Detroit Police Department

Police say Brown visited Deanna Minor’s home in April after receiving a referral from her therapist. During that visit, Brown found there wasn’t enough food in the home, according to the police statement.

Police allege Brown spoke to Williams after her visit and subsequently sent a letter to Minor asking that the mother contact Child Protective Services. But police allege Minor never did so.

Brown, according to investigators, allegedly never returned to Minor’s apartment to check in on Aaron and violated protocol by failing to alert police to the potentially dangerous situation.

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“It is alleged that Ms. Brown and her supervisor, Ms. Williams, were grossly negligent and reckless in performing their duties because they failed to: 1) provide a safety plan to protect Aaron; 2) respond and follow through on reports of the mental health workers; 3) ask the police for a safety check; 4) file a petition with the juvenile court authorities; and 5) follow the CPS policy and procedure,” the police statement reads.

“We charged this case after much thought and deliberation” said Prosecutor Kym Worthy in a statement. “We did not make this decision lightly. We must seek to hold these defendants responsible for their alleged inaction. The ultimate result in this case was the death of a child that never should have happened.”

Brown and Williams are due back in court next Monday.

Lawyers representing Brown and Williams did not return phone calls seeking comment. Neither defendant has entered a plea to the charges against them.