Innocents Betrayed: A Times Investigation

L.A. County dithered, children died

County dithered, children died

By the time he was rescued last year, the 5-year-old South Los Angeles boy was so malnourished his kidneys were failing. His hands were so badly burned he could barely open them.

Child welfare officials traced his history, trying to make sense of what had happened.

Abuse begets abuse in a family's brutal legacy

A long history of dysfunctional parenting put a 6-year-old boy in the murderous path of a man his siblings called the Maniac.

Files detail deaths of 14 children

The abuse cases came from families that had been under scrutiny by L.A. County child welfare officials.

Flawed county system lets children die invisibly

Miguel Padilla, mistreated and abandoned, killed himself at 17

With time and help, a mom may learn to conquer anger

An L.A. County program returns abused children to their troubled homes, emphasizing parental training over foster care. But there are risks.


Shock, but no basis for surprise

L.A. supervisors are indignant at news of more deaths from child abuse and neglect, but the pattern is familiar.

How computers call the shots for L.A. County children in peril

Social workers feed in data on suspected abuse and neglect, and a decision pops out. Officials say the system eliminates the previous scattershot approach. Critics say the human element is slighted.

Boy's death shows weaknesses of L.A. County's child welfare system

Boy's death shows weaknesses of L.A. County's child welfare system

Nine months before the mother of a 4-year-old decapitated him with a Ginsu knife, the principal of a Highland Park preschool phoned Los Angeles County's child abuse hotline to report that the woman was screaming and shouting outside the building.

Data system to curb child abuse is urged

County supervisors will study a new attempt to help agencies share information.

Social workers protest perceived role in children's deaths

Fourteen children died last year from abuse or neglect while on social workers' watch. The county workers say huge caseloads are to blame.