Appeals Court Tosses Criminal Case Against County Social Workers

An appeals court has tossed the landmark criminal case against four L.A. social workers accused of mishandling a child services case that ultimately ended in the child’s death.

The social workers were accused of lying on documents and then prematurely closing the case of 8-year-old Palmdale boy Gabriel Fernandez. He was allowed to stay in his abusive home, where he was eventually tortured and killed by his mother and her boyfriend.

The decision to charge the county workers with a crime was unusual, but underscored the serious nature of the case. Prosecutors argued their actions were so egregious that they qualified as criminal negligence.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 2nd District Court of Appeal disagreed.

“Although there may be consequences to social workers who fail to fulfill, the consequences do not include criminal liability for child abuse,” the court said in the appellate opinion

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.