A.J. Freund Case: 2 Former Child Welfare Employees Involved Are Charged with Child Endangerment
A.J. Freund, 5, died in April 2019
More than a year after 5-year-old A.J. Freund was found dead, two Illinois Department of Children and Family Services employees have been arrested in connection to his death.
A.J.’s body was found wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave in April 2019, days after his parents Andrew Freund Sr. and JoAnn Cunningham reported him missing.
The parents were later charged with his murder. The child's mother has been sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty, while his father is still awaiting trial.
On Thursday, the former DCFS employees, Carlos Acosta, 54, and Andrew Polovin, 48, were taken into custody by the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and are charged with two felony counts of endangering the life of a child and one count of reckless conduct, according to CBS Chicago. They have yet to enter a plea.
They were accused of failing to properly investigate allegations concerning A.J.'s abuse at the hands of his parents. Both posted $20,000 bond on Thursday night, CNN reported.
Caseworkers had long been familiar with A.J. since he was removed from the home after he was born in 2013 with opiates in his system. Though he was returned to his parents in 2015, there were multiple allegations of drug use and child abuse, according to online records found. Police responded to the Freund family home at least 17 times, local news station WLS-TV reported.
According to CNN, child welfare caseworkers came to the home at least twice in 2018 alone: once for allegations of neglect in March, and once for allegations of abuse and neglect in December. Still, A.J. and his sibling remained in the home.
“I got the sense from what I read that the cops were essentially begging [DCFS] to take the child,” state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, a Chicago Democrat who chairs the House Adoption and Child Welfare Committee, told the Associated Press at the time. “There were so many calls made, so many signs of trouble and still nothing was done.”
Former DCFS employee Acosta serves as an elected member of the McHenry County Board. Following his arrest, community members have called for his resignation through a Change.org petition.
The description on the petition, which has amassed more than 5,000 signatures, says Acosta was the DCFS "Advanced Child Protection Specialist" assigned to A.J.’s case in December 2018 and alleges that he failed to protect the child.
“Carlos Acosta failed AJ, failed AJ's family, failed the police, failed the doctor, failed our community, failed the residents of McHenry County, failed DCFS, failed the taxpayers of Illinois,” the petition states. “We, as tax paying citizens of McHenry County, do not want him representing us. We sign this petition demanding his immediate resignation/removal from the McHenry County Board.”