A Detroit social worker and her supervisor are facing manslaughter charges after prosecutors said they failed to protect a 3-year-old boy who was found dead in his home earlier this year.
Elaina Brown, 24, and Kelly M. Williams, 47, were charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse, both felonies, the Wayne County prosecutor announced on Monday.
Both women are accused of failing to protect Aaron Minor, whose body was found in a bed on May 25, ABC 7 reported. His mother, 28-year-old Deanna Minor, was arrested in August after the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the child’s death a homicide.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the decision to file charges against Brown and Williams was not made lightly and came “after much thought and deliberation.”
“We must seek to hold these defendants responsible for their alleged inaction. The ultimate result in this case was the death of a child that never should have happened,” Worthy stated in a release.
After a maintenance worker discovered Aaron’s body in May, authorities finally located his mother at an area hospital’s crisis center, but did not have specific information about why she was there. A family member told local news outlet Fox 2 that Minor had a history of “severe depression.”
Prosecutors said a mental health worker had flagged Minor to Child Protective Services on April 21. Brown visited Minor and her son on April 21 and 22 and determined that there was not enough food in the house.
Brown alerted her supervisor, Williams, but that was reportedly the last time she saw the mother and son. Brown sent Minor a letter asking her to contact CPS on May 9, but it’s believed that Minor did not follow through, prosecutors said.
“The CPS policy and procedure requires that when a family cannot be located, fail to cooperate, and there are allegations of imminent risk, the CPS worker must: contact the police for a safety check, and file a petition with the juvenile court,” prosecutors said in a statement sent to HuffPost.
Bob Wheaton, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, noted that Brown and Williams have been suspended with pay, but are both “entitled to the presumption of innocence.”
“Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Services Agency employees are committed to protecting vulnerable children from abuse and neglect,” Wheaton said in a statement sent to HuffPost. “They have difficult jobs and care about children. MDHHS employees are deeply saddened by any child death.”
The two women both received $25,0000 bonds and have both been ordered to stay away from children in their work capacity.
“There is no dispute that death of a three-year-old boy is a tragic, terrible event. There is a natural tendency to place blame, but not all tragedies result from criminal activity,” said Deanna Kelley, an attorney representing Williams. “We are saddened that the prosecutor’s office is pursuing manslaughter charges against women who have dedicated their careers to helping children. Ms. Williams and Ms. Brown enjoy the presumption of innocence and look forward to their day in court.”
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s question about the specific cause of Aaron’s death.
Minor faces charges of felony murder, second-degree murder, first- and second-degree child abuse and failure to report a dead body, prosecutors said. Her competency hearing is scheduled for Nov. 30.