Settlement in the death of 17-month-old Semaj Crosby, girl found under a couch in Joliet Township

Civil lawsuit against DCFS contractor settled in Semaj Crosby case

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Five years after 17-month-old Semaj Crosby was found stuffed under a couch in Joliet Township, a settlement has been reached with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) contractor.

No one has ever been charged with her murder, but after the body of 17-month old Semaj Crosby was found in a Joliet Township home, a civil lawsuit has been settled for $6.5 million.

The lawsuit blamed Children's Home and Aid, a contractor of the Department of Children and Family Services, for failing to protect Semaj and remove her from her mother's home, which was in squalor conditions.

Crosby's death in June of 2017 has been labeled suspicious, but officials said they still do not know what or who was behind her death.

Semaj Crosby was reported missing by her family, but her body was found a little more than a day later in the house. A house where she lived with a few relatives and who police describe as a number of squatters.

Will County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Rick Ackerson said it would be nice to catch a break in the case.

Ackerson said some witnesses have been re-interviewed, but that did not lead to any new information. He also said that autopsy results are not in. Normally, Ackerson said, autopsy results are back in four to six weeks, but he said in cases like this, it could take months.

Chicago attorney Jay Paul Deratany released a statement on the settlement:

After five years of litigation and far too many years that this family has suffered, I am happy to announce that we have settled the case for $6,450,000. No amount of money can possibly bring Sema'j Crosby back, but we hope that organizations such as Children's Home & Aid, as well as other contractors with the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services, will abide by their contractual obligations to provide the best possible care for children. There was no reason Sema'j had to die, and the money that will go to her brothers and sisters will never ease the pain.

We also believe that DCFS should have greater control of their contractors, and therefore we will continue to pursue a case in the Court of Claims against DCFS.

Nevertheless, we certainly hope that Children's Home & Aid moves forward, has learned from their mistakes, and will provide better training to their employees along with better oversight over children under their care.  As one of the supervisors admitted, they took on too many cases and were overworked, and that is a problem. DCFS should monitor the amount of cases they give to a private organization. And, the private organization should not accept cases unless they can provide ALL services and comply with ALL DCFS regulations. We can only hope that more cases like Sema'j Crosby's do not occur in the future.


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