Friday, August 01, 2008

Nine people have been charged in the death of Danieal Kelly

The Associated Press reports that nine people have been charged in the death of Danieal Kelly, a 14-year old girl with cerebral palsy who was only 42 pounds when she died from starvation in August, 2006.

Danieal Kelly's mother has been charged with murder, and her father has been charged with child endangerment. Seven other people have also been charged.

These include two social workers from the Department of Human Services, who have been charged with child endangerment for failing to act upon reports that Danieal was not receiving medical care, social services or schooling, and two social workers who worked for a company hired by the DHS to provide services to Daniel; they have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and for falsifying records to cover up the fact that they rarely checked on her, it is reported.

Three friends of Danieal's mother were also arrested and charged with perjury for telling grand jurors on the day before Danieal's body was discovered that she was doing fine.

District Attorney Lyne Abraham is quoted as calling the DHS's handling of the case "callous, indifferent, unconscionable" and all too familiar. According to Abraham:

Daniel did not fall through the cracks ... It was a failure of institutional inclination. Saving Danieal was just too much trouble.

Excerpts from the 258-page grand jury report recommending the charges include:

In the final weeks of her life, Danieal's brother - himself only a child - kept telling his mother that something was wrong, but she dismissed him. Shortly before his sister died, he begged his mother to call an ambulance. She refused. Only the next day, with flies buzzing all over her body, was 911 contacted.

During this investigation we found a tall, filthy cardboard box in [DHS social worker Dana] Poindexter's cubicle, big enough to hold a file cabinet. The box was filled to the top with random case files, food wrappers, and unopened business envelopes (some with four-year-old postmarks). At the bottom of the pile was Danieal's file.

Even when she personally visited the Kelly apartment, [DHS social worker Laura] Sommerer failed to check on Danieal; on the last occasion, five weeks before the child's death, when she had already lost 50% of her weight and at times was left sitting in her own urine and feces, Sommerer noticed nothing amiss at all.

At least one [DHS] administrator herself back-dated reports about Danieal, some by more than a year, with false dates and determinations to make it look like they had been properly completed. She said this was a common practice at DHS.

On the afternoon and evening of Danieal's death, [part-owner/director of MultiEthnic Behavior Health Mickal] Kamuvaka convened what in essence was a forgery fest in her office. She directed [employees] to concoct almost a year's worth of false progress reports, to substitute for all the work that had never actually been done.

For more excerpts, see the Philadelphia Inquirer.