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Mother Says System Failed Son and His Victims

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, April 16, 2012

A 15-year-old, mentally-handicapped boy is scheduled to be in juvenile court today.  He faces charges of sexually assaulting children.  The boy seems to be right on the edge…. of predator… and victim…and the system seems to be ill-equipped to handle him. 

The boy's mother, Heaven Richie says she will do whatever she has to… to make sure her son never does this again.

RICHIE: "I have survived things like that myself and that I am 42 years old and it still hurts me to this day.  I've explained this to my son.  I've explained how he scared that little boy... how he hurt that little boy.  And he is sorry."

Sergeant Andrew Pettit with the Sacramento Police Department says the most recent attack by the boy came at Sim Park in southeast Sacramento.  A couple briefly lost track of their seven-year-old son.

PETTIT:  "One of the employees was able to give us excellent video footage The video showed the suspect and the victim walking away from the area where the incident occurred. "

An officer who knows the area thought to check the local group home.

PETTIT: "That suspect was actually in that group home, wearing the same clothes.  He was in our system."

He was in the system -having been cited and released by Sacramento County Sheriffs deputies a month earlier for the felony sexual assault of a five-year-old boy.  Sheriff Scott Jones says deputies often cite and release felony charges, but this case put officers in an unusual position.

JONES:  "You had the juvenile's legal guardian present there willing and wanting to take custody of the juvenile and assuring the officers that he would be kept away from other juveniles to prevent such a recurrence.  He had a diminished mental capacity.  Even, then the officers weren't completely convinced, and so they contacted the child abuse sergeant, the supervisor. "

The boy was released into the custody of the group home employee who had lost site of him while shopping.  Heaven Richie says her son was with the same employee a month later before the assault at Sim Park.  Richie says there were at least two other incidents dating back to 2009 and the employee knew he couldn't let her son leave his sight. 

But she says her son is not a predator.  She says he has a form of cerebral palsy that has left him with the mental capacity of a child half his age.  And she believes he was abused in a previous foster home.

RICHIE: "When I try to bring it up, my son pretty much refuses to speak.  He will nod his head in agreement that somebody did this with him, but he will not tell me who."

Richie says she has been clean and sober for almost a year.  She is trying to regain custody of the boy.  She says it's obvious the supervision provided by the group home's owner has been inadequate.

RICHIE: "She cannot do what she needs to do to get my son where he needs to go in order to get him better.  I think it's her fault about the victims…about everything."

The Antiporda-Cerezo Small Family Home is under investigation by the California Department of Social Services.

The home has declined requests for comment. 

The boy faces three felony charges for the assaults.

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