Judge Dismisses Criminal Charges Against 4 Social Workers Connected to Death of 8-Year-Old Gabriel Fernandez

Rebekah Sager
July 16, 2020 - 6:05 am
Gabriel Fernandez (KNX)

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A judge dismissed criminal charges Thursday against four former social workers accused of failing to protect 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, who was tortured to death in 2013. 

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The four social workers had each been charged with a felony count each of child abuse and falsifying records. His mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, will likely spend the rest of their lives behind bars for his murder.

The boy's mother was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole while her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, was sentenced to death. 

The sentence was handed down by Judge George Lomeli, who called the brutality of the boy's abuse "nothing short of evil." 

In a 2-1 decision, justices from the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that social workers Stefanie Rodrigez, 35, and Patricia Clement, 59, as well as their respective supervisors, Kevin Bom, 41, and Gregory Merritt, 64 couldn't be charged because they “never had the requisite duty to control the abusers and did not have care or custody of Gabriel,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

When the four were charged in 2016 it first time that child protective workers were criminally charged amid claims of mishandling of a case.

“Social workers play a vital role in society. We entrust them to protect our children from harm,” Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said in a 2016 statement. “When their negligence is so great as to become criminal, young lives are put at risk. We believe these social workers were criminally negligent and performed their legal duties with willful disregard for Gabriel’s well-being.”