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Investigation into ACS and fatal dog-mauling of boy

June 7, 2011 2:46:19 PM PDT
We have an update in the dog-mauling death of a little boy last month in Brooklyn.

A family member says they notified the city several times about "unfit" conditions inside the boy's home.

The little boy's aunt insists she called Children's Services several times about living conditions and the children being left alone.

As Eyewitness News began to look into these claims, there were two simple questions: how many complaints did the agency receive, and how many visits, if any, were made to the home?

But the agency continues to hide behind confidentiality even when the law encourages disclosure.

The neighbors all seemed to know something was wrong.

A small apartment cluttered with filth, animal cages, and three big dogs.

It suggested a family under duress.

But these signs were apparently missed during at least one visit by the city's Administration for Children's Services.

11 days ago, one of those dogs lunged at 4-year-old Jayelin Graham and mauled him to death.

His aunt says she had made repeated attempts to get ACS to take action.

"We kept trying to get the children out of there. Yet, they still, we couldn't get them out. Social Services was lying stating that they went up there and it was fit. It's not a fit house, if you walk in there it's disgusting, it was very nasty. There is no way that nobody, yet alone the child could stay in that house," said D'Neishah Graham, the boy's aunt.

Eyewitness News wanted ACS say how many complaints they had received about the family living here and how many visits did they make to the home.

They refused to answer these two basic questions stating that, "due to the ongoing investigation, we are unable to provide additional information at this time."

"There's something wrong in the way ACS is doing business, if this got missed," said Bill DeBlasio, Public Advocate.

New York's Public Advocate has sent a letter to the ACS Commissioner also demanding to know what contact ACS had with the family and the "outcome of the contact".

"I want to know what did ACS do with this family? Why did they miss that fact that there was a danger what does it mean for the next family what has to change in the way we approach these families?" DeBlasio said.

Greater disclosure of ACS cases is allowed under Elisa's Law.

Elisa was a 6-year-old child tortured to death by her mother back in 1995.

The outrage led to passage of a law in her name that clearly states "Disclosure of child services information" is permissible.

11 days and counting, ACS has chosen not to disclose any details thus diminishing a little girl's legacy and leaving many guessing about a little boy's horrible death.

"My nephew keep asking, 'I don't want to go back home'. He keep saying, 'I don't want to go back home,' and every time we call Social Services and they say you have to give him back to his mother. You have to give him back to his mother and this keeps happening. And nothing happens until something like this happens," Graham said.

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If you have a tip about this or any other issue you'd like investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at the.investigators@abc.com.

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