Jorge and Carmen Barahona's Alleged Beating Death of Daughter Called 'Subhuman'

Date: 2011-03-07

Investigators Cite 'Constant Torture' of Twin Adopted Children

BY RUSSELL GOLDMAN

The grisly discovery of the little girl's body decomposing in a garbage bag was the last bit of evidence that Nubia Doctor's treatment at the hands of her adoptive parents was, as the prosecutor said today, "subhuman."

Arrests warrants and a news conference today detailed a short and brutal life endured by Nubia and her twin brother Victor.

Jorge Barahona, 53, is accused of punching his daughter to death on Feb 11 following a lengthy torture session in which the girl was kept bound at the hands and feet and left in a bathtub. Carmen Barahona, 60, is also charged with first degree murder.

According to court documents, the 10-year-old twins were subjected to months of abuse culminating in a torture session that ended with the girl's death just one day after state child welfare authorities visited the home and found no reason to intervene.

"On Feb. 11, 2011 in the presence of Victor, Jorge Barahona removed Nubia [from the bathtub] while her feet and hands were still bound and took her to [the couple's] bedroom. Co-defendant [Jorge Barahona] reportedly punched and beat Nubia about her body while she screamed and cried until she was dead," according to the documents.

Police describe a house of horrors where the children were "repeatedly hit, punched, beaten with multiple objects about their bodies and bound and left for days on end, locked inside the only bathroom in the family home..."

James Loftus, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, called the case "depressing [and] sickening" and described the ordeal suffered by Nubia and her twin brother Victor as "very organized abuse."

"I don't know how people justify this in their minds… this is subhuman," Loftus told said today. At one point, Loftus marveled at the allegation that Nubia and Victor were "locked in a bathroom days on end with no light."

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle decried "the methodical, systemic, constant torture imposed on these two beautiful children."

Barahona was initially arrested Feb. 14 after Nubia's remains were found covered in chemicals and decomposing in a bag in the back of his truck. Police found Barahona and Victor parked along a highway outside West Palm Beach, Fla. The boy, overcome by fumes and convulsing, was covered in chemical burns.

Barahona was originally charged with aggravated child abuse and the attempted murder of Victor, but it was not until this weekend that the couple were charged with first degree murder for the death of Nubia.

Victor remains in the hospital where he is receiving treatment for chemical burns that cover most of his lower body.

The prosecutor implied today that investigators waited for Victor to be well enough to interview, before pressing charges against the parents.

"Statements are being taken as we speak…. Statements were not taken right away because Victor needed a lot of medical attention," Fernandez Rundle said.

Nubia and Victor were placed in the Barahonas' custody in 2004 when state investigators took the twins out of their biological father's home after the man was accused of sexually abusing Nubia. The twins are sometimes identified by the last name of their biological father Doctor, and sometimes by their adopted parents' last name.

Nubia suffered from a cleft palate and a rare sexual dysfunction. Her treatment for the cleft palate was damaged, according to the arrest warrants.

Despite routine visits, state investigators repeatedly missed clues that the children were being abused in their new home.

In the days since the children were found, the state has removed two other children, a girl named Jennifer, 7, and a boy named George, 11, from the Barahonas' home and placed them in protective foster care.

Carmen's biological granddaughter, who made frequent visits to the Barahona home, told a school therapist about the twins' abuse, saying the children had been bound and forced to stand in a bathtub. The therapist then called a child abuse hotline.

The state's Department of Children and Families has come under increased scrutiny for failing to remove the children from the home, despite signs of abuse.

A case worker in 2007 wrote: "Nubia's hunger has been uncontrollable, she sneaks and steals food, steals money, has hair loss, is very thin, nervous and jittery. Nubia also has an unpleasant odor… In the past it is believed Nubia's adoption was halted when Nubia was coming to school dirty while in the adoptive mother's care."

"This child is very medically needy and should not be missing appointments because the foster parent does not want to take her," the report said.

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Failure to move? Uh, failure to do SOMETHING right

The state's Department of Children and Families has come under increased scrutiny for failing to remove the children from the home, despite signs of abuse.

I think this case represents many mistakes and failures made by social services well before the children were even put in these "forever" nightmare homes.  As a result, post-placement monitoring is only one practice that is lax and needs to improve.

Child safety begins before the child is placed in a new home.  Future foster/adopted child safety begins at the PAP screening process, and does not end until the child is a legal adult, (18 in the United States).

In a related article, Jennifer O'Flannery Anderson (from Broward United Way), put this situation in context:

"A lot of it comes from their (the victim's) parents, the environment they came up in that is so unhealthy that it becomes natural to them. They saw it done so they think that is how they treat their children," said Anderson. "We are dealing with a break down of multiple generations of the eroding family, young families, parents who were not raised in healthy environments, did not have good modeling."

[From:  All in the Family: Roots of SoFla Child Abuse , March 8, 2011 ]

In theory, each foster/adoptive parent in Florida must complete 24-30 hours of parenting classes before a license to foster/adopt is issued.  This is a State requirement. 

After the classes, prospective foster parents complete a licensing study to become licensed to be foster parents. Prospective adoptive parents complete a homestudy to be licensed to adopt. Both are very similar. The typical time frame is six to eight months for the entire process.

[From:  How to Foster and Adopt:  Florida ]

What (the F is silent)  is being taught in these MAPP ( Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting) classes?

Florida

It may not be all that important what is taught in these MAPP classes as much as what is learned in these classes.

I never was an A-student, mostly because I liked learning, but hated preparing for a test. Of course some scored much better in school than I did because they were really smart, but many scored better because they focused on passing tests and forget all about it the day after.

I guess it's not all that different in these MAPP classes. People want to become foster parents (for whatever reason) and are obliged to attend parenting classes. That may sound good in theory, but what guarantees are there that people actually learn something useful from these classes, things they will apply in the week, months, years ahead?

Florida has a long list of abuse cases, many of which related to children from foster care:

Albert Smith Clair-Mel City
Alex Charles Boucher New Port Richey
Boy adopted by Deidra Harris Orlando
Boy adopted by Scott Legrand Orange County
Boy adopted by Steven and Mikelann Renwick Tavares
Boy adopted by Tai-Ling Gigliotti Spring Hill
Boy adopted by Walter and Beverly Watts Port St. Lucie
Boys adopted by David Allen Lindsey Sr. Boynton Beach
Children adopted by Brian Kloosterman and Stephanie Schreiner Orlando
Children adopted by Charles and Marjorie Moss Plant City
Children adopted by Dwayne and Pamela Hardy Altamonte Springs
Children adopted by Harold Johnson and Sherry Johnson Pensacola
Children adopted by John and Linda Dollar Beverly Hills
Children adopted by Judith Leekin Port St Lucie
Children adopted by Nellie Jasper Johnson Gainesville
Children in foster care of Florence Marie Shipp and her husband Eglin Air Force Base
Children residing at Tampa Bay Academy Riverview
Corey Greer Treasure Island
Daughters of Pastor in Ocala, Fl Ocala
Deondre Bondieumaitre Miami
Faith J. Ray (Samantha Foster) Bellevue
Girl adopted by Laurence Jacobsen Port St. Lucie
Girl in foster care with Arthur and Lori Allain Brooksville
Girl in foster care with Jeff Allen Woodring Golden Gate
Girl in foster care with Robert and Betty Clinton Deltona
Girl in foster care with Robert Jackson and Janie Jackson San Carlos Park
Girls adopted by John and Alicia Bryan St Petersburg
Girls in foster care with Brian and Antonia Starmer Oldsmar
Janie Tylski Jacksonville
Lazon Gulley St Petersburg
Lucas Ciambrone (Pedro Garcia) Rubonia
Steven Bennett Bradenton
Victor and Nubia Doctor West Palm Beach

Florida has also had serious problems with psychotropic drugs prescribed to their foster care population:

Denis Manuel Maltez
Gabriel Myers
Psychotropic drug cases Florida

Florida is one of the more problematic states when it comes to child protection, which I believe has much to do with Florida's zeal to deregulate and privatize public services. This is particularly troubling for a state where everyone is from somewhere else. Just one in three Floridians was born there. Only Nevada has a lower proportion of native residents than Florida.  This easily creates a situation where no one knows one another, making that horrific child abuse goes largely unnoticed.

On top of that Florida knows no state income tax (a constitutional amendment), one of the main reasons people choose to move to the Sunshine State, but also one of the main reasons why social services are under constant budgetary pressure, especially given the fact that Florida's legislature is very conservative.

It's no wonder Florida's Department of Children and Families (DCF) is incapable addressing the serious issues in their state:

  • Many DCF workers don't know the communities they work in, while at the same time those communities are largely in flux.
  • Much of the work is actually done by private contractors whose main interest is their bottom line.
  • Florida attracts a disproportionate number of people from out of state, seeking refuge from "intrusive" state government.
  • There never is money to constructively build up a proper child protection system, especially given the constant push for privatization.

Of course some heads will roll at DCF in response to this case, but the underlying issues will remain, so a year or two from now we will learn of a case similar to that of Nubia and Victor, after which the whole charade of investigations and head rolling will take place again. Florida's child protection problems are systemic and that's not something that can be changed by personnel change.

Horrific

This is one of the worst stories of abuse I've ever read. Unthinkable. And it boggles the mind, the sheer incompetence of this moronic Social Worker who should be held responsible, in part, for the death of this girl and the abuse of her twin. How on earth does a thinking human being, who is supposedly trained in "child welfare" (note quotes) misses this horrific blatant abuse? How?

Wait, let me guess.... this bunghole idiot is still on the job, right? And the excuse is lack of funding, overwork, or not enough staff? Hasn't that been the tried and true excuse for decades? I remember reading about this exact issue in the 1980s.

Yet another gold star for Florida DCF! Who can now add to their growing list of accomplishments:
1. Complicity in child trafficking by keeping some of the most nefarious adoption agencies in the business open (Celebrate Children, Adoption Blessings, Homecoming... to name a few gems) and finding every excuse in the book they can get their grubby mitts on to keep them open, despite years and years of complaints
2. Placing children in abusive homes, even to the point of death
3. Incompetent Social Workers who lack training and are not monitored by the State
4. Failure to correct their continued pattern of the above

Florida DID receive more than a gold-star....

According to the North American Council on Adoptable Children:

In fall 2009, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rewarded 38 states for increasing foster care adoptions. Some states were particularly adept at finding families for older youth—in 2008, adoptions of children nine and up rose 39 percent in Florida, 25 percent in Texas, and 91 percent in Wyoming. We asked state leaders in these and other states how they were so successful at placing older children. Each state’s story is unique, but several themes emerge.

[From:  Successful Older Child Adoption: Lessons from the Field, Summer 2010 ]

I discovered this not too long ago... as I was doing a little research for another topic.

I'll be posting my finds later today... fascinating stuff, isn't it?  All it takes is a strong stomach and an insatiable need to dig.  [DH gets furious with me because I 'waste all my time' on projects that don't pay me money.  He has no idea what life in an abusive adoptive home is like..... he still thinks growing-up with little spending money is the worst thing in the world.]

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