Last week on this blog, I wrote about the overworked Miami-Dade Public Defenders’ Office and the potential consequences for those who are indigent and have been accused of a crime. Over the weekend, the Miami Herald published an article about another government office that has had well-publicized problems. The mother of a fifteen-year-old
The teenager, Stephanie Dorismond, was killed after fleeing to the supposedly protective care of a man named Jean Loccident. Instead of taking care of the girl, Mr. Loccident smashed her skull with a toilet lid while the two were staying in a local hotel. Stephanie’s mother believes that DCF had more than enough warning signs to prevent this tragedy from ever happening.
The relationship between the Department of Children and Families and the Dorismond family reaches back over four years. The first contact came after Stephanie stole $10,000 from her mother’s boyfriend and received threats after not sharing the money equally among her classmates. Calls to DCF continued the following year when Stephanie received cuts and bruises to her hands and face from her mother, who was determined by DCF to be suffering from severe depression. The last contact occurred when Stephanie accused a male relative of molesting her and, as the lawsuit asserts, DCF did little to investigate the allegations.
Who should carry the blame in this horrific situation? Some would argue that Merline Dorismond has no place suing Department of Children and Families when she herself had a role in the abuse of her child. Others will say that DCF has the overriding responsibility to care for children when their parents prove incapable and therefore the mother had every right to expect better assistance. Wherever you choose to focus your anger, we all mourn the loss of a girl who seems to have been failed repeatedly by the caregivers in her life.
At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys who provide the experience and professionalism to deal with sensitive cases such as the one described above. If you are struggling with any legal issue, please contact us and let’s find out how we can help.