Why Did Arizona Child Welfare Leave Baby Josephine in the Same Home as an Abusive Felon?

Baby Josephine had bruises, a cigarette burn and 14 broken bones when she arrived at Arizona’s Cardon Children’s Medical Center. She was in the care of Angelica Jimenez at the time, an approved care provider in Arizona’s Child Protective Services (CPS). New details suggest CPS badly mishandled this case. AZ Family reports:

…when Chandler detectives first questioned the woman Child Protective Services approved to care for Baby Josephine, Angelica Jimenez told them, “I don’t smoke but every once in a while I have a drag so I know it wasn’t me.”

While Jimenez claimed she didn’t see the abuse, one of her children did.

“This was a very critical material witness,” [Detective Dan] Coons said.

Coons suspected that Jimenez was hiding something and after speaking with the child who witnessed the abuse, his suspicions were confirmed. The child said that Jimenez’s boyfriend, Steven Saldana, burned Josephine with a cigarette. However, by the time Jimenez went to court, the case had crumbled:

“The family was working feverishly to try and find out what the child had told us,” Coons said.

“The child was interviewed in court to see how competent the child was and at that point the story was completely changed,” Coons explained.

According to police, Saldana was pressuring Jimenez to take responsibility for the abuse because he already had a felony and didn’t want to go back to prison. This raises an obvious question: Why did CPS allow baby Josephine to be in the same home as a convicted felon? The case history presented by police indicates multiple CPS failures:

CPS knew Saldana was living part time in apartment 8. In fact, months before Josephine’s abuse was discovered, a CPS staff member had recommended a criminal history check be conducted on Saldana, but that didn’t happen.

What’s worse, during a supervised visit on July 21, another CPS case worker failed to document bruising on the side of Josephine’s chin or the bump near her hairline.

Ultimately, Jimenez took a plea deal in the case that kept her out of prison while Saldana was sentenced to 27 months in prison on a plea deal. Coons said it was the first time in his career he’s seen multiple charges of child abuse reduced to disorderly conduct.

CPS declined AZ Family’s request for an on-air interview, but Coons continues to speak out on behalf of Baby Josephine:

“The child is all I care about, that’s all I want to make sure that they’re getting a fair shake because they can’t speak for themselves, they can’t defend themselves,” Coons said.