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DCFS: No prior evidence of abuse, neglect for 47-pound teen

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BATON ROUGE - A state lawmaker sent a letter demanding the Department of Children and Family Services investigate how they handled the case of a 15-year-old who was found only weighing 47 pounds this week in Baton Rouge.

However, the agency's secretary said their case workers never found evidence of abuse or neglect when investigating complaints about the child's living conditions.

Police said they found the teen after arresting his mother, 49-year-old Rose Holland, on suspicion of cocaine possession. When the officer checked the house on for more drugs he said he discovered the malnourished boy lying in his own urine and feces in Holland's room, having a seizure and covered in roaches.

Etna Williams, the teen's aunt, told News 2 she and another family member made three complaints in the past year to DCFS about Holland's living conditions. Williams claimed she never got any assistance getting the boy into a better home.

On Thursday Rep. Alfred Williams (D-Baton Rouge) released a letter which said he'd requested a meeting with DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier to review the case, but had not received a response for three hours. Williams threatened to have the Inspector General investigate Sonnier's office if she did not respond to his request within the week.

Sonnier held a press conference after the letter's release Thursday in which she told reporters she did begin looking into her agency's response to the case, and said they could find no substantiated reports of abuse or neglect in their records.

Sonnier said they would continue to dig into how this case was handled. She said one immediate policy change DCFS made was to require any complaints involving children with special needs which left them unable to communicate must be investigated by a medical professional in addition to DCFS case workers.

"No child should ever be faced with that situation, certainly no child as vulnerable as this one who was non-verbal and had special needs," Sonnier said.

News 2's Brett Buffington will have updates on this case tonight at 5, 6 and 10.


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