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home : news : national news free January 21, 2020

12/14/2019 11:05:00 AM
2 involved in Fruend case no longer state workers

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Two child welfare workers at the center of an investigation four months before the death of a 5-year-old from Crystal Lake are no longer state employees, state officials confirmed Friday.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Carlos Acosta and his former supervisor, Andrew Polovin, are no longer employed. Their separation from the Department of Children and Family Services came after a lengthy disciplinary process, but agency spokesman Jassen Strokosch declined to say whether the two were fired or resigned.

Acosta was the child protection specialist assigned to check a Dec. 18 call from Crystal Lake police about a bruise on Andrew “A.J.” Freund’s right hip. The boy gave varying explanations for the injury, including that the family dog had done it during play. But records show he also told an emergency room doctor, “Maybe mommy didn’t mean to hurt me.”

Acosta determined an allegation of abuse was unfounded after consulting Polovin, who was the supervisor in two earlier investigations of A.J.’s well-being.

A.J. went missing last spring and his body was found days later, on April 24, in a shallow grave about seven miles from his home. His parents, Andrew Freund and Joann Cunningham, were charged with first-degree murder the same day. The 36-year-old Cunningham pleaded guilty Dec. 5 and faces up to 60 years in prison. Freund, 60, awaits trial.

Attempts to reach Acosta and Polovin by telephone were unsuccessful.

Acosta, who is also a member of the McHenry County Board, and Polovin, who both had about 25 years of experience, were reassigned after A.J. went missing. They are also named in a federal lawsuit filed this fall on behalf of the boy’s estate, including three siblings. It claims Acosta and Polovin showed “an inhumane indifference to A.J.’s safety.”

The newspaper says that a confidential report in October by the DCFS inspector general recommended firing Acosta, Polovin, and a third worker, Kathleen Gold, who had investigated a complaint about A.J.’s well-being in March 2018. Gold has since resigned. The report, which focused on the March and December 2018 investigations, determined that the employees “failed to see the totality” of the troubled history of A.J.’s family and failed to intervene.

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