NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — City officials are calling for a swift investigation into the alleged abuse of a 3-year-old Brooklyn boy who remains on life support at a local hospital.
Salvatore Lucchesse, 24, was walked out of the 61st police precinct Wednesday morning in handcuffs headed to face a judge.
Police charged him with four counts of assault and acting in a manner injurious to a child after Jaden Jordan, his girlfriend’s son who he was babysitting, was rushed to the hospital on Monday.
Jaden was unconscious when he was carried out of his Gravesend home Monday night, police said. A woman, who did not want to be identified, said she saw the boy being handed over to paramedics.
“And the baby facing up, like naked, it was so cold last night, and gave it to the paramedic,” she said. “They took and right away he closed the door. Soon the paramedic took the baby, he closed the door.”
One neighbor says he often saw the boy playing with his maternal grandmother who also lives in the neighborhood.
“The baby always had a smile on his face,” he said. “You never know what lurks behind closed doors.”
Jaden’s grandmother returned home Wednesday afternoon asking for privacy for the family. Before going inside she did want to make clear that she had never met Lucchesse.
Sources said Lucchesse told investigators Jaden slipped while he was in the bathtub, but doctors said the boy’s injuries and his story don’t match up — a fractured skull, bruising and brain damage points to alleged abuse, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported.
At the home on 5th Street Wednesday, a crying neighbor came by to deliver a palm cross and Ninja Turtle for the little boy, who has been declared brain dead.
“He loved my Christmas decorations,” the neighbor said.
One neighbor describes a vibrant child.
“I’m hoping that he’s going to recover,” he said. “It’s a shame. He’s such a nice little boy.”
Others said they’d often hear fighting inside the home.
“Just words, violent words,” another neighbor said. “And yelling.”
Police said the boy’s mother was not home when her son was allegedly injured. She was questioned and released and police said she is not facing any charges.
In a statement sent to CBS2 Wednesday, an ACS spokesman says that after receiving an anonymous report on the case Saturday, the organization responded to the address provided in the report.
After two days of investigating the complaint, it became evident that ACS was provided with an incorrect address, according to the statement.
ACS then responded to the correct location and began what is currently an ongoing and highly active investigation, according to the spokesman.
Public Advocate Letitia James issued a statement calling for “a swift, thorough, and transparent criminal investigation into Jaden Jordan’s life threatening injuries.”
“Time and time again, ACS fails to protect vulnerable children living in abusive and neglectful homes,” she said. “Every day we move forward without systemic reforms, such as splitting the responsibilities of ACS into different agencies, implementing rigorous oversight over contract agencies and adequately training and supervising caseworkers, and providing deeper ongoing supports to children exiting foster care or child preventative services, we put lives like Jaden’s at risk.”
James said case workers need to be retrained and the city should examine the case load it’s placing on them.
“And I believe the ACS is just too large in scope and that’s why it should be split up into different agencies and a smaller agency, that has less responsibility, needs to focus on child welfare,” she told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.
Comptroller Scott Stringer also issued a statement, saying, “When it comes to child welfare, this is as horrific as it gets.”
“It’s heartbreaking. As our office continues to look into ACS procedures, we call on the agency to be as transparent and swift as possible with its investigation into this specific case,” he said. “We must know what happened and why, because this is happening too often. We can’t allow a single child to slip through the cracks.”
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reports, the City’s Department of Investigations has requested all the ACS records involving Jaden’s case to make sure the agency did everything they could to protect the child.