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JERRY KASSAR
JERRY KASSAR

Three-year-old Jaden Jordan died at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend. This is not the way I wanted to start off a column for the week before Christmas, but Jaden deserves as many mentions and as many prayers as can be summoned.  The last few weeks of his young life were highlighted by beatings and all sorts of torture at the hands of Salvatore Lucchesse.

New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) had information about the boyfriend and even a specific complaint just the day before the boy ended up brain dead at Coney Island Hospital, but like so many cases in recent memory failed to investigate properly.

Lucchesse has been charged with numerous counts of assault and abuse of a child. It should be upgraded to first degree manslaughter. And, frankly, I wish New York had a death penalty because this miserable excuse for a human being should be facing it.

Personally, I think the mother who left Jaden alone with Lucchesse should also face some type of punishment.  Although she apparently did not witness the beatings, the media reporting indicates that she was aware of her boyfriend’s abusive behavior, which apparently included locking the children in a cage.

We can only pray that Jaden rests in peace. For that to occur, bringing about a degree of justice for this toddler will be the first step.

***

In order to double check some of my information for the above story, I put into my Google search engine “Three-Year-Old Beating Death.” More stories then I can count came up — abuses and, in some cases, deaths that occurred all in the past two or three years around country. It was one of the most sickening groupings of headlines I had ever seen, and they were all three year olds.

I can only imagine what would happen if I had searched for two-year olds or four-year olds. These unspeakable tragedies, in some cases, were due to gross negligence such as in the case of leaving a child in a hot car with the windows rolled up.

In other cases, like the one in Brooklyn, there was outright violence. Government agencies established for one purpose — to investigate and intervene — generally do a good job, but even one case falling through the cracks is too many, and, as I have seen with a minimal amount of research, there are many, many very serious lapses. This aspect of the child safety net has too many holes.

In many of the incidents, one parent seemed to know what was happening but failed to act. Sometimes, it was due to an additional spousal abuse that was occurring in the household. Other times, the complacent parent might not be guilty under the law, but was most certainly guilty of being negligent in the eyes of any onlooker. This is another part of the safety net that could use immediate improvement.

And then there is law enforcement. Some district attorneys handle this area better than others. Charles Hynes made this a focus of his time in office, as a result of abuses in his own home by his father when he was growing up.  D.A. Thompson, for all his criticism of Hynes, also thought this was an important area. And our new District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who worked for both Hynes and Thompson, appeared personally in court for the arraignment of Lucchesse. He made it clear he intends to throw the book at him, which sends an important message that he too will have zero tolerance.

Judges also, when parents are involved, sometimes fail to act in a decisive manner. I can appreciate their hesitancy to break up a household as an absolute last resort, but there are too many documented extreme cases in which they had the ability to prevent a tragedy and failed.

Christmas at its heart is about the Baby Jesus and children. Addressing abuses during this holy season as well as all year, in my view, is an appropriate way to glorify Christ’s birth.

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