CPS scrutinized in girl's death

June 15, 2011 2:32:54 PM PDT
Lingering questions remain in the recent death of a four-year-old girl. Betsabeth Sandoval had injuries all over her body when she died. Her mother and a woman who lived with them are both charged in the case. It turns out Child Protective Services did know this family. CPS workers tell me they checked on the child about three months ago and found nothing. But for two days now the agency has given us a tough time trying to get to the bottom line of how thorough that investigation really was.

"A warrant for your arrest, ma'am, has been issued for the felony offense of causing serious bodily injury to a child," a judge explained.

Maciel Sandoval appeared before a judge overnight on charges linked to the suspicious death of her four-year-old daughter Betsabeth, a child whose body police allege was found covered with bruises and fractured bones back on June 3.

Steven Lightfoot with Justice for Children said, "My question is to what extent did CPS investigate?"

Now child advocates with Justice for Children are among many across this community questioning whether Child Protective Services dropped the ball in investigating allegations of abuse at the little girl's home. CPS told Eyewitness News it sent workers to check on the family back in March, but found no signs of abuse.

"Experience has shown us that the typical CPS investigator, although a very well intentioned person who truly wants to do right by the child, is not trained in the investigative techniques that a law enforcement officer is trained in," Lightfoot said.

In the warrant against Sandoval, and her adult roommate who's also charged with injury to a child, a doctor alleges little Betsabeth suffered abuse over some time, including bruises from blunt force trauma and fractures at different stages of healing.

After repeated requests, CPS staff has failed to answer our questions about its investigation and follow-up procedures in cases like this. Workers at Justice for Children tell us they are not surprised.

Lightfoot said, "The system is failing our children. And the only thing we can do to fix it, is to change the way the system operates."

Autopsy results for the little girl are still pending. Her mother remains in jail on a $60,000 bond and immigration hold.


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