California county to pay $32 million in case of abused baby

In the summer of 2020, a 10-month-old child, identified only as JG in court records, was admitted to an Orange County hospital and found to have suffered “severe brain damage resulting from severe malnutrition.”

According to a lawsuit filed against Tulare County last year, JG “is likely to have infant cognitive function for the rest of his life.”

The lawsuit, filed by the child’s grandmother, alleged that the county’s child welfare program failed to respond to multiple reports of child abuse and neglect, resulting in JG’s condition and permanent brain damage.

The county settled the lawsuit this month and is scheduled to pay JG $32 million, which “is believed to be the largest settlement ever reached by a child abuse survivor in the state of California against a child protection agency,” the plaintiff’s attorney said Monday in a press release.

“The system is down,” senior counsel Brian Panish said.

“The overall oversight and management [of the Child Welfare Services program] was very bad,” he said, adding that the program’s systems were “behind the times” and “inadequate”.

As part of the settlement, the agency will need to implement new policies and software to better track and follow up on reports of abuse.

Neither the child welfare services nor the county responded to a request for comment Monday.

“JG’s experience represents one of the worst cases of what happens when the child welfare service fails to meet its basic obligations,” Panish said in a press release. “There is no amount of money that could restore JG’s quality of life and we will never know how much life he could have lived if only the county had done its job.”

The agency received recommendations on JG in October 2019, just weeks after the child was born.

JG’s birth parents don’t believe in modern medicine or that diseases are real, according to the complaint, and in early 2019 his birth father hatched a plan to raise a fully “plant-based” baby.

JG, the complaint states, was exposed to a variety of dangerous situations within a week of giving birth, including extensive “sunbathing” followed by ice baths. The father put photos of these acts online.

Photos of JG were posted online on October 9, showing that he “looked very small, wrinkled and malnourished”.

In a single day in March 2020, JG’s grandmother called Child Services 10 times to report JG’s malnutrition and neglect.

“None of those calls were documented,” the complaint said.

The grandmother called the agency again the next day and spoke to a social worker about JG’s treatment.

Again, the referral was not investigated and the case was referred to several other social workers.

“From March 2020 to July 31, 2020, JG’s health deteriorated. His body was covered with a rash, his extremities became swollen and he did not gain weight,” the complaint reads.

JG’s parents fed the infant mainly mixed bananas and dates with honey. He was not breastfed or fed infant formula.

On July 31, JG was taken on vacation to Costa Mesa by his parents. The next morning, JG became unresponsive and was eventually admitted to an Orange County hospital.

The Orange County Child Protection Agency opened an investigation, and on August 4, Tulare County’s child welfare services were notified of JG’s condition.

Orange County Child Protective Services took custody of JG, and the Orange County District Attorney’s office filed child endangerment charges against the parents.

After spending time in a foster home, JG was placed in the care of his grandmother.

“She’s his guardian angel,” Panish said. California county to pay $32 million in case of abused baby

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