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Child Welfare Agency Did Not Protect Zymere Perkins Despite Abuse Evidence

By Jeff Mays | December 13, 2016 7:22pm
 Zymere Perkins died late September after enduring months of physical abuse by his mother's boyfriend, officials said.
Zymere Perkins died late September after enduring months of physical abuse by his mother's boyfriend, officials said.
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NEW YORK CITY—The Administration for Children's Services failed to order medical examinations of 6-year-old Harlem boy Zymere Perkins "despite allegations of serious physical abuse," according to a report from the agency on the boy's brutal beating death.

The report, which was ordered by Mayor Bill de Blasio, found that ACS and an outside agency contracted to handle child welfare issues, systematically failed to protect the boy by not "completely and thoroughly" investigating  "issues regarding the welfare" of the child, whose death was declared a homicide.

►READ MORE: 6-Year-Old Harlem Boy Endured Months of Brutal Abuse Before Death, DA Says

ACS also did not "attach sufficient importance" to the ability of Zymere's mother to care for him and did not even seek the release of appropriate medical and mental health records to properly examine the case, the report found.

The agency had five different investigations involving Perkins from 2010 to 2016 to look into allegations of abuse, three of which were found to be substantiated. Yet, ACS closed Zymere's case in May, months before he was found dead in September. The Family Treatment Rehabilitation program at Mt. Sinai St. Luke, which Zymere's mother was ordered to attend, last visited with the family on July 28 when Zymere's mother told them she was moving out of state.

During one investigation of child abuse allegations in April 2016, ACS workers failed to follow up on "meaningful, conflicting" information given by Zymere and his mother regarding how he was injured as well as his mother's "inconsistent explanations" of the injuries.

In 2015, Zymere told ACS officials that his mother's boyfriend placed him naked under a cold shower as a form of punishment while his mother yelled at him and slapped him in the face. He was also forced to do pushups and was beaten with a belt as a form of punishment.

Even after ACS officials learned that Zymere had been absent from school 24 times in the 2015-2016 school year, they did not add it as part of the investigation.

Zymere died on Sept. 26 after being beaten in Harlem by his mother's boyfriend with a wooden broomstick and his hands for defecating in the living room, his mother Geraldine Perkins told police. Perkins and Rysheim Smith have both been charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

The report was released one day after ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrion resigned and announced her retirement, even though the mayor said Perkins' death was not a factor in her decision.

►READ MORE: Embattled Head of City's Child Welfare Agency Quits

The report was released at 5:48 p.m. Tuesday, hours after the mayor held a two-hour unrelated press conference in Manhattan. A spokesman for the mayor said the report had not been ready earlier in the day.

The mayor has three events on his schedule Wednesday but all are closed to the press.

In a statement, de Blasio said the "report uncovered a troubling series of lapses and missed opportunities in ACS’s failed effort to protect" Zymere.

"Procedures were not followed, common sense was not exercised, and due diligence was lacking up and down the chain of command responsible for Zymere. I will not accept excuses for this failure and I will not accept the notion that every single one of these tragedies cannot be prevented. The buck stops with me," de Blasio said.

Three ACS employees involved with Zymere's case have been fired and another six employees have been suspended and demoted.