CENTER MORICHES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – CBS2 is keeping the spotlight on what happened to young Thomas Valva and how he died in the home of his father.
Our investigation shows how the boy’s mother lost custody in court, and what officials are doing now to prevent future abuses.
Royal blue ribbons, the symbol used in the national awareness campaign for child abuse and autism, adorn Main Street in Center Moriches, where a community has come together with love and support for victim 8-year-old Thomas Valva.
His legacy? Prompting change.
“We are committed to getting to the bottom of the facts of this case and what happened, and help improve the system so it never happens again,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn.
Thomas’ father, NYPD officer Michael Valva, allegedly beat Thomas and made him sleep in his Center Moriches frigid garage, where the child died.
Valva and his fiancee, Angela Pollina, were charged with murder.
CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan is told that since then, 65 Child Protect Services caseworkers have been in group counseling. The administrator of Suffolk Child Protective Services says it is tough to take action.
“If the parents say no and the school district is not the reporting party of the concern, we are unable to obtain records from the school,” said Mark Clavin of Suffolk Family & Children’s Services.
Social services leaders said publicly for the first time that changes were made the day after Thomas’ death. Supervisors must now make a deep dive into any case with more than four allegations of child abuse and neglect.
The state’s child abuse hotline got 17 emergency calls against Valva and Pollina, all explained away and dismissed.
Court records reveal exchanges between Justyna Zubko-Valva and a judge during bitter hearings involving custody of all three of her sons, Tommy, Andrew and Anthony.
“My children are coming soaked in urine. Anthony is sleeping in the garage. His hands and feet are bright red, your honor. He’s not getting any food,” Zubko-Valva said.
“Ms. Valva, move along. I can’t remember everything you are saying because you’re saying so much,” the judge replied.
“Your honor, the CPS is not doing the job because they are closing the reports the next day,” Zubko-Valva said.
The judge denied her motion to return the children to her.
“Why? On what basis? The children’s life is in danger, your honor,” Zubko-Valva said.
“Because I said so,” the judge replied.
Attorney Thomas Liotti lodged a formal misconduct complaint against the judges, who are elected, not appointed, in the Valva case. The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s 11-member panel will decide the judge’s fate.
“They do not deserve to be judges of any kind and they should be removed immediately,” Liotti said.
Once the judicial conduct commission receives and reviews a complaint, a judge can be cleared, suspended, removed, censured or even resign.
Prompted by Thomas’s death, the Nassau County Legislature hosted a public hearing Wednesday night on its Child Protective Services safe procedures and protocols.