Time for another update on the case of five-year-old AJ Freund. The two employees of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services who oversaw AJ’s case for months before he was allegedly murdered by his shitbag parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew “Drew” Freund Sr., have been fired.
Caseworker Carlos Acosta and his supervisor, Andrew Polovin, left the Illinois DCFS after an internal investigation on their handling of the Freund case, including deeming prior allegations of abuse unfounded despite concerns from a medical doctor and police.
In December 2018, one report of abuse was deemed unfounded after a doctor was unable to determine the exact cause of a bruise on AJ’s hip. AJ told the doctor the bruise was caused by the family dog, but he later said, “Maybe someone hit me with a belt. Maybe Mommy didn’t mean to hurt me.” AJ was released into his parents’ custody, but the DCFS investigator recommended Drew stay home “as a safety precaution.”
The DCFS report also mentioned discrepancies between the actual conditions police found inside the Freund home as opposed to the conditions reported by the DCFS investigator the following day.
In an email, DCFS spokesman Jassen Strokosch said, “Following the heartbreaking death of AJ Freund, DCFS began a comprehensive review of the entirety of our work with AJ’s family to understand what needs to change to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. As part of this review, DCFS has taken personnel action regarding Carlos Acosta and Andrew Polovin, the caseworker and supervisor involved in the case. Mr. Acosta and Mr. Polovin are no longer employed by the state. DCFS is continuing to examine the department’s work in this case and will take all necessary action to protect the children and families we serve.”
Both Acosta, who is also a McHenry County Board member, and Polovin, as well as Acosta’s fellow caseworker Kathleen Gold, have been named in a lawsuit filed by AJ’s estate, claiming the three showed “humane indifference” to the little boy’s safety despite all of the indicators that he was in danger. The suit also accuses Acosta and Polovin of falsifying reports about AJ’s case.
Acosta’s annual salary with DCFS was almost $100,000; Polovin was paid almost double that, according to the state comptroller’s website.
Because of AJ’s case, McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally said his office will be instituting new protocols regarding handling abuse allegations. “We are in the process of revamping a lot of our protocols and we’re also in the process of making sure that any type of alleged battery or sexual abuse of a child that there is a police reported generated,” Kenneally said. “We get that police report for our own review and we’ve assigned our special prosecutor to the abuse and neglect courtroom because we want to make sure over the next months, years that this is a top priority for this office.”
Acosta, Gold, and Polovin have sought the state’s assistance in obtaining legal defense, which they feel they are entitled to as former DCFS employees, but Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has refused to do so, citing a state act allowing the state to recuse itself from cases involving employees whose actions were “not within the scope of the employee’s state employment or was intentional, willful or wanton misconduct.”
A status hearing on the issue of the three former DCFS employees’ defense has been set for January 30.
Click here for more of my coverage on AJ’s case.
Sources: ABC Chicago, CBS Chicago, Daily Herald