What happened to the social workers from The Trials Of Gabriel Fernandez?
3 March 2020, 15:51
Netflix's true-crime documentary, The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez looked into the murder of an 8-year-old boy, who was brutally beaten to death by his parents in 2013.
If you haven't already seen Netflix's harrowing true-crime documentary, The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez, the story follows the case of a then-8 year old Gabriel who was brutally murdered by his parents in 2013.
While the show looks into the cover up and gruesome beatings that led to his death, it's also about the entire system that failed the boy, including Child Protection Services, who had been involved with the family for a long time and are being blamed just as heavily as his parents for neglect.
In the story, we hear about how his mother, Pearl Fernandez, had a history of child abuse, and Gabriel had only been allowed to move back in with her a year before his murder, after he was raised by his grandparents who protested her taking back custody of him, as she'd already abandoned two of her children.
After moving back in with his mother and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, Gabriel quickly became a victim of domestic abuse, and would be locked in a cupboard with a sock in his mouth and forced to eat cat litter.
His older brother, who also testified against the parents and was 12 at the time, speaks up in the documentary about how his sibling was tied, gagged, beaten with a belt, shot with a BB gun and had his teeth knocked out with a bat.
On the night of his murder, Pearl had phoned 911 and told emergency services that her son had slipped and hit his head in the bath, before the true crimes of what happened that night came to light when he died in hospital two days later - a scandal that would see not only the parents sentenced to the death penalty, but four social workers who were sacked and charged for child abuse for letting it happen.
When did social workers get involved in the Gabriel Fernandez case?
Gabriel's mother, Pearl, was a known figure to the authorities following her previous child abuse-related incidents, and the first person to hop on this case, Stefanie Rodriguez, was alerted by Gabriel's teacher that she thought he was being beaten at home. Unfortunately, nothing came of the complaint, even after Gabriel himself started begging the teacher to contact Rodriguez to help him.
Patricia Clement took over when Gabriel started getting shot with a BB gun, and along with Stefanie Rodriguez, her comeuppance came when it was realised that neither of them were following up with the case or properly documenting the 8-year-old's deteriorating health and visible signs of neglect.
The other two social workers in question, Kevin Bom and Gregory Merritt, became involved when they were supervising on the case, and failed to see the contradictory reports about Gabriel's home life, which led to them facing charges of knowingly falsifying records and felony child abuse, which carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison.
Where are the social workers from the Gabriel Fernandez case now?
There was speculation for a long time about whether the social workers from the case would face jail, as many people pinned what happened onto them, but in February 2020, the court of appeal dismissed any charges being held against them.
For Clement, Rodriguez, Merritt and Bom, it means they are now essentially off-the-hook (apart from losing their jobs), however, despite a child dying whilst in their care, two out of the four of them, Rodriguez and Merritt still believe they didn't do anything wrong as they were dealing with children who "were in graver, or in equal danger" at the time.
Will there be a season 2 of The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez?
The director of the show has already said he wants to make a second season, involving a sit-down chat with both of Gabriel's parents about what happened that night, whom are both currently serving life sentences in prison.
His Mum, Pearl Fernandez, is facing life without parole after losing her plea.
Aguirre, Gabriel's stepdad, is one of 737 inmates waiting to be executed by lethal injection at the infamous San Quentin Prison - the largest death row in the world, despite the fact no one has faced the death penalty there since 2006.
Being granted access to the prisons in order to interview his parents would make this one of the most intimate true crime series ever created.