LOS ANGELES – The family of a severely malnourished 11-year-old boy whose body was found in a closet in Los Angeles Aug. 22 had been the subject of six prior reports to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the department’s director, Philip L. Browning, said Monday.
Browning said two of the reports, dating back to 2002, preceded the boy’s birth and involved at least one of his siblings, the Los Angeles Times reports.
A report filed by his school to the police and child services in 2009 said Yonatan Aguilar may have been physically abused.
In 2011 a hospital social worker also reported that he was suffering from general neglect, a term used to indicate poor living conditions.
Another set of teachers contacted the department in 2012, reporting that the boy was suffering from neglect and had a black eye.
In each instance the county interviewed staff and determined that the boy hadn’t been abused. They also interviewed the child apart from his parents, doing what Browning said was good, thorough work.
The child was off their radar after 2012.
“We don’t have any authority to intercede or intrude on a family after we have determined there has been no abuse,” Browning said.
“We cannot call and just check up on you and check for abuse,” he added. “We might have made a difference if we’d gotten a phone call.”
Yonatan’s mother, 39-year-old Veronica Aguilar, has been charged with one count of murder and one count of child abuse resulting in death.
According to law enforcement officials, the boy was found severely underweight and with healed injuries which suggest that he suffered from long-term physical abuse, the Times reports.
Browning said Monday that his department is conducting an internal investigation.