L.A. Social Workers Will Go to Trial in Gabriel Fernandez Case

A judge has rejected a bid to dismiss criminal charges against four L.A. County social workers charged in connection with the death of an 8-year-old boy whose case they were overseeing.

Stephanie Rodriguez, Patricia Clement, Kevin Bom, and Gregory Merritt are facing up to 10 years in prison for abuse and falsifying records. Prosecutors have argued that their actions contributed to the death of Gabriel Fernandez, allegedly at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend, in 2013.

The defendants' attorneys had argued that the statute of limitations for the charges had run out, but prosecutors claimed the relevant dates stretched much further than the social workers and their attorneys contended. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar sided with the prosecution Monday and said the scope of that legal duty would be hashed out at trial.

The four are accused of lying on documents and then prematurely closing Fernandez’s case, which allowed him to stay in the abusive home. The decision to charge them criminally is unusual, but underscores the serious nature of the case.

The four have pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Image Credit: Flickr User bethcortez-neavel, https://flic.kr/p/xx9XSo via (CC 0 1.0)