Child Abuse in the Closet

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

No one will ever love you like your mother does.

In most cases, this is a positive and true statement about the depth of a mother’s love, protection, and devotion to her children. Unfortunately, some children would be better off as far away from their mothers as possible.

Such was the case of a Los Angeles boy, Yonatan Aguilar, his siblings, and their mother, Veronica Aguilar, if the horrific allegations against the mother are true.

Aguilar is accused of child abuse and murder in the death of her 11-year-old son, Yonatan, who she allegedly kept continuously drugged and locked in a closet for over three years until the child slowly and “excruciatingly” finally starved to death. His stepfather who lived with them was not aware, believing the lie the mother told to him and school officials years ago– – that she had sent the child to an institution in Mexico.

The lie was finally reportedly exposed when, learning of the boy’s death from the mother, the stepfather began preparing to go to Mexico to bury the boy. In response, Aguilar brought him to the locked closet where her dead son, weighing only 34 pounds, was lying still beneath a blanket and alleged said “she’d taken care of the problem that had been ruining her life”. He called the police.

Sadly, Aguilar’s other young children who lived with her were allegedly aware of their mother’s treatment of Yonatan, but were reportedly kept “too afraid” to tell anyone the terrible secret.

Child abuse can come at the hands of anyone. It is particularly difficult to understand when it comes at the hand of a parent. Child abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual in nature.

According to the California Child Neglect and Abandonment Law, “it is illegal for any parent to willfully withhold care, food, shelter, medical care, or remedial care from a child without a lawful reason” or “to knowingly endanger a child by placing the child in an unsafe situation”. Further, “a parent who willfully exposes a child to the likelihood of physical harm, mental suffering, or death may be guilty of a crime”.

In addition to the physical and emotional abuse and neglect allegations (and murder charge) with respect to Aguilar’s alleged treatment of Yonatan, and his resulting in death, one wonders if an investigation into her treatment of her other children and the pressure to keep her secret might give rise to possible emotional child abuse charges regarding Yonatan’s siblings, too.

Reportedly, the last time Yonatan attended school was in 2012 and, prior to his leaving, two separate reports were apparently filed regarding suspicion of child abuse due to bruises on Yonatan and his habit of hoarding food because he was hungry–both of which are signs of potential child abuse. Sadly, the school as well as the stepfather apparently believed the mom’s convincing story of Yonatan’s transfer to the Mexican institution.

Everyone has an obligation to report child abuse, but certain people are required to do so by law. In California, the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act requires those in a position of authority over children including but not limited to teachers, caretakers, daycare, clergy, police, and other adults and professionals to be “mandatory reporters” of incidents or signs of possible child abuse.

If you suspect that any child has been the victim of child abuse, report it. If it is your child, contact the police and an experienced child abuse and neglect attorney who can help you obtain a Protective Order to safeguard the child from further abuse.

At the law firm of J&Y, we realize that incidents of child abuse are very sensitive and can come at the hands of a parent, close relative, trusted caregiver, stranger, or an institution and its employees. Depending on the particulars, we can file a lawsuit against the abuser and the institution for compensation which may include past and future costs for medical and psychological treatment, expenses for medications, the child’s pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages. Compensation won’t undo the damage of child abuse, but it may help the victim with the financial resources needed to begin recovery.

Contact the J&Y Law Firm at (888) 806-6722 for a free consultation. We’re dedicated to fighting child abuse and represent clients in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Rancho Cucamonga, and throughout California.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.