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After AJ Freund's Death, DCFS Problems In McHenry County 'Have Gotten Worse,' State's Attorney Says

(CBS) -- In the months since the death of AJ Freund, the McHenry County State's Attorney says the system that failed the Crystal Lake five-year old has actually gotten worse.

In a letter obtained exclusively by CBS 2, State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally writes "The problems with the DCFS Office in McHenry County have gotten worse over the last several months, not better.  The root of the problems, however, remain the same – a lack of accountability for inadequate performance."

Kenneally points out three cases since AJ's death where he says DCFS failed children in McHenry County.

"To illustrate this point, consider the fact that, six months later, DCFS has yet to determine, one way or the other, whether any corrective or disciplinary action is warranted for its response to the December, 2018 complaint involving AJ Freund."

In December 2018, a DCFS investigator deemed neglect allegations against A.J.'s mother unfounded, after a doctor could not pinpoint the cause of a mysterious bruise on the boy's hip.

Kenneally makes the point that the primary responsibility for protecting children in a community should "belong to the community, not the state."

Andrew AJ Freund
Andrew "A.J." Freund has been reported missing from northwest suburban Crystal Lake. (Credit: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

In the Fruend case, DCFS is moving to fire two investigators and their supervisor.

The firings of DCFS investigators Carlos Acosta and Kathleen Gold, and their supervisor Andrew Polovin were recommended by the agency's inspector general in a confidential written report prepared for the head of DCFS, according to sources.

AJ was killed in April, and his parents have been charged with his murder. DCFS had prior contact with the family, but investigators had deemed allegations of abuse unfounded, despite concerns from a doctor and police.

Cunningham-Freund Mugs
JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund Sr. have been charged with murder in the death of their son, 5-year-old A.J. Freund, whose body was found buried in a shallow grave seven miles from their home in Crystal Lake. (Source: McHenry County Jail)

DCFS handling of A.J.'s case has come under intense scrutiny after his death, in light of agency reports that revealed A.J. told a doctor of possible abuse four months before he was killed.

In a statement, DCFS addressed allegations regarding two teenage foster children who were shackled.

DCFS is committed to ensuring every child in our care is treated with the utmost dignity and respect. The use of restraints in this case was totally unacceptable and against department policy. DCFS is investigating the incident and putting additional policies and procedures in place immediately to ensure youth are never restrained during transport unless it is clinically necessary.

RELATED:  JoAnn Cunningham, Charged With Killing Son A.J. Freund, Says 'I'd Rather Kill Myself Than Hurt Anybody'


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