State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) issued the following statement today after a judge ruled that former DCFS investigator and child protection specialist Carlos Acosta was guilty on two counts of child endangerment in a case stemming from the April, 2019 death of five year-old A.J. Freund:
“Today’s ruling merely confirms that a young child died in a tragic incident that never needed to happen. The evidence that was given in this case clearly indicates that the failure of the defendants to do their jobs put this child in a position of danger which resulted in what proved to be a predictable outcome.” Reick said.
A.J. Freund was murdered by his mother, JoAnn Cunningham after he had been taken into and then released from protective custody by DCFS after a December 2018 investigation about a large bruise found on the boy. She is now serving a 35-year term for murder in the Logan Correctional Center.
“The indictment that led to today’s verdict is not just one of two employees who failed to do their jobs,” Reick continued, “it’s an indictment of an agency that has consistently failed in its mandate to protect children from abuse and neglect. In his summation, the judge made it plain that the defendants were more interested in checking boxes from the DCFS policy manual than they were in working with local authorities and agencies to provide protection to this child. Systemic changes to our child welfare system are long overdue, and those changes begin by making child welfare the subject of local jurisdiction, not State control.”
Lake County Judge George Strickland found Acosta not guilty on a third charge of reckless conduct and found Acosta’s supervisor, Andrew Polovin not guilty of all three of his charges. The judge said he could not determine from the evidence what Polovin knew and when he knew it. Acosta faces between two and five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.