Government agency accused of returning children to abusive parents.
After four children were taken out of their parents’ care, the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) is facing a second lawsuit for being returned to an abusive home. A whistleblower lawsuit against the state agency was filed by a current employee, Kelly Mazy, and a former colleague, Ivy Woodward. Attorney Benjamin Gubernick filed on behalf of the children and their legal guardians appointed by the court.
In the federal lawsuit, Patricia Garza, a manager of the agency’s Hobbs office, and several unnamed “John and Jane Doe Defendants” are accused [who] are CYFD employees or agents who violate children’s civil rights by not protecting them from their parents. “It also accuses CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock of” participating in pressuring an employee who handled the case. “
According to court documents, as of 2019 Hobbs police officers discovered Andrei Christian Ducila, 25, and Luiza Badea, 22, with their children, ages 3 weeks to 4 years old, begging for money outside of Walmart. At that point, the officers found that the minors were not being properly cared for and accused the parents of abuse. CYFD took over custody, but the children were later returned to their parents.
Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash
When a CYFD officer visited the family’s home on May 2, the family was nowhere to be found and a police report was filed. New Mexico officials received a call in October from North Carolina police who were also looking for Ducila and Badea after they left one of their children, a two-year-old daughter, in a hospital with injuries that left them permanently blind.
The U.S. Marshal’s Office eventually found Ducila and Badea and three of their children in Houston. You are currently being held without commitment.
The lawsuit alleges that CYFD agents returned the children to their parents despite knowing the couple was unable to conserve resources and “obstructed the initial investigation into the family’s disappearance.” The federal complaint states: “Woodward monitored the family’s first visits, found that the parents were clearly unable to care for the children, and documented this inability in reports she submitted to her superiors at CYFD. Garza and others in the department urged that the children be returned to their parents, despite knowing that doing so would pose a significant risk to the children’s health, safety and well-being. “
“After the family disappeared,” the complaint continues, “CYFD actively obstructed law enforcement efforts to locate the plaintiffs.” CYFD prevented the Hobbs Police Department from issuing an Amber Alert by insisting the plaintiffs were not in danger. CYFD also refused to report the missing plaintiffs and initially blocked the district attorney from bringing charges by claiming that it would not compromise CYFD’s custody rights. CYFD has also withheld documents from Hobbs Police Department investigators that could have made it possible to determine the family’s whereabouts. “
“We are committed to being fully transparent and accountable to the public while protecting the safety and rights of children and families,” CYFD responded. “However, because federal and state laws protecting the safety and privacy of children prohibit disclosure of information about such cases, it is common for people to form strong personal opinions based on incomplete – and sometimes selectively disclosed – information. This can lead to situations where some individuals or organizations develop a version of a story that is inaccurate while CYFD cannot correct the record. “
New Mexico is on trial after children are returned to alleged abusive parents
New Mexico was sued after children were returned to alleged abusive parents