3 New York Child Welfare Workers Fired After 6-Year-Old Dies from Alleged Abuse
"This report uncovered a troubling series of lapses and missed opportunities," Mayor Bill de Blasio said
A recently released state-ordered report into the handling of a six-year-old New York City boy’s death has led to the termination of three city employees and the appointment independent monitor to review the city’s child welfare agency, PEOPLE confirms.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the investigation in September, days after 6-year-old Zymere Perkins died of what the medical examiner called “Fatal Child Abuse Syndrome,” PEOPLE confirms.
At the time of his death, the Harlem boy appeared to have several broken ribs and signs of long-term abuse including being malnourished, according to the report, which was obtained by PEOPLE.
The report details five complaints involving Zymere investigated by the city’s Administration of Children and Family Services from 2010 until his death on September 26.
Zymere’s mother, Geraldine Perkins, 26, and her boyfriend, 42-year-old Rysheim Smith, have been charged with child endangerment, ACS officials tell PEOPLE.
Since the report was released on Monday, three ACS workers have been fired and the state has ordered independent monitoring of the agency, which released its own report on Zymere’s death Tuesday.
That same day, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced six more employees would be suspended or demoted.
“This report uncovered a troubling series of lapses and missed opportunities in ACS’s failed effort to protect Zymere Perkins,” de Blasio said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “Procedures were not followed, common sense was not exercised, and due diligence was lacking up and down the chain of command responsible for Zymere.”
An Alleged History of Abuse
According to the report, ACS had been aware of Zymere and his allegedly troubled home life from the five incidents handled by the agency beginning in 2010.
More recently, in September, Zymere and his mother were discharged from a local homeless shelter for frequent absences. They had been staying in and out of homeless shelters for years, the report states.
According to the ACS report obtained by PEOPLE, Perkins and Smith were first investigated for allegedly using drugs in 2010, and in later years often allegedly used corporal punishment to discipline Zymere.
In June 2015, officials received an anonymous call from someone claiming to have witnessed Smith punishing Zymere at a family picnic by allegedly smacking him with “excessive force” on the buttocks and legs. The witness claimed Perkins was present during the incident and did not try to protect her child.
During the ACS investigation into the incident, Zymere told agents Smith allegedly “beat him” with a belt on his buttocks when he misbehaved and would force him to take cold showers. He also alleged Perkins would slap him and he would be forced by Smith to do jumping jacks.
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Upon questioning, Smith allegedly admitted to spanking the child in public. He allegedly told investigators he would threaten Zymere by turning on the cold shower and saying he would put him in it if he “was bad. However, he denied ever putting the child in the shower, allegedly saying the threats were merely “leverage.’
The family was investigated again in February, after Zymere allegedly showed up to school with several injuries over the span of a few months, including a fractured jaw, cuts near his eyes, and a missing tooth, the ACS report states.
The agency did not press charges after speaking with Perkins, who allegedly blamed her son’s clumsiness, saying he “fell a lot.”
In April 2016, Zymere arrived at school again with multiple bruises and scratches, the report states. He was examined by the school nurse and told the nurse he had fallen off of his scooter. But his bruising was so severe he was taken to a local hospital, where ACS was called.
However, ACS did not press any charges, even after Zymere hinted that he was being starved, telling agents he allegedly did not “get to eat good” if he was “bad.”
“The investigation of this report was grossly incomplete and lacked supervisory and managerial oversight,” the report states. “The ACS documentation was convoluted with no focus on attempting to grasp an understanding of the subject child’s account of events leading to the injuries.”
On Monday, de Blasio announced ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrión would resign.
The departure comes a month after Carrión tearfully testified at a City Council hearing regarding Zymere’s case, NBC4 reports.
“I have committed my entire career to helping children and families, and losing a child is unbearable. And it’s my responsibility, and one that I take seriously,” Carrión, 65, said while fighting back tears.
Carrión served as commissioner of the state’s Office of Children and Family Services for seven years, according to the New York Times and was one of the first officials de Blasio appointed as part of his administration.
At the time, she promised to focus on “tightening the system so that no child falls through the cracks.”
In a statement to PEOPLE, Gov. Cuomo’s office condoned the ACS’ protocols, calling the report’s findings “troubling.”
“The monitor will conduct a thorough, comprehensive evaluation of child protection and preventive services programs and present findings and recommendations as to changes that need to be made at ACS,” the statement read.
Smith and Perkins remain behind bars on bail, according to CBS New York. The couple’s lawyers could not be reached for comment. It was not immediately clear if they had entered a plea.