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Investigative Panel To Release Barahona Findings

MIAMI (CBS4) -- The independent review panel investigating the Barahona case will meet Thursday afternoon for its fifth and final hearing, during which the panel is expected to release its findings after several weeks of testimony.

The case has drawn severe criticism for the Department of Children and Families in recent weeks as details emerge about missed warning signs, including several abuse allegations against the Barahonas that were all deemed unfounded by DCF caseworkers.

However, police said the Barahonas bound the twins by their hands and feet and locked them in a bathroom for days. An arrest warrant taken out by police alleges Jorge Barahona grabbed the girl, Nubia, from the bathroom on Feb. 11 and beat her to death as Victor listened to her screams. He was also injured after his lip split open. The boy was born with a cleft palate, but police said the Barahonas refused to take him to the doctor in recent weeks.

Hundreds of pages of documents released Wednesday by the Department of Children and Families highlight gaping holes in checks by DCF case managers.

Prior to their adoption, caseworkers were supposed to visit Nubia and Victor's foster home every 30 days to check on the twins while Carmen and Jorge Barahona were trying to adopt them. But documents reveal the case manager didn't even talk to the twins in a majority of visits over four years, nor did the caseworker consistently visit them every 30 days.

Failures have also been discovered during the adoption process. Several hearings were held as therapists, school officials and guardian ad litems weighed in on whether the Barahonas should be allowed to adopt the twins.

A psychologist completed an evaluation and recommended approval for the twins' adoption by the Barahonas in 2008, child welfare officials said. The psychologist concluded it would be "detrimental" to remove the children from the Barahonas' care. If they did, the children would never bond with adults again.

However, the psychologist did not include any information from school officials even after a teacher reported that Nubia said Carmen Barahona hit her.

A judge ultimately sided with the Barahonas and the adoption was approved in August 2009.

Nubia's body was found on Valentine's Day in the flatbed of her adoptive father's pest-control truck, drenched in toxic chemicals. Victor was found hours earlier in the pickup's cab, burned by caustic chemicals. He is recovering at a therapeutic foster home after being released from Jackson Memorial Hospital's burn unit. The adoptive parents, Jorge and Carmen Barahona face charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and child neglect.

Isidro and Ana Reyes, who are Victor's biological aunt and uncle, are now seeking custody of the boy. The couple also sought to adopt the children after they were placed in foster care in 2004. A judge ultimately ruled that the twins should stay with their then-foster parents, the Barahonas, because they'd already bonded.


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