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Another victim alleged in case of dead girl in truck

MIAMI — The 6-year-old girl who blew the whistle on the grisly abuse of her grandparents' two adoptive children is herself a victim of child abuse, authorities said Friday.

A Miami judge ordered that the girl's mom, Jennifer Perez, and all members of her family to have no contact with the child for the foreseeable future.

"I want to know if I can at least speak with my daughter," Perez asked.

"No," replied Circuit Judge Sandy Karlan in a custody hearing requested by Perez's ex-husband, Yovani Perez .

"I may not speak to her?"

"You will have no contact at this point," Karlan said. "We need to know the details of the allegations, and they are pretty horrific. I'm sure you are well aware at this point. No good can come of it at this point."

Jennifer Perez and her parents, Jorge and Carmen Barahona, are at the center of one of the state's most grisly child abuse scandals in recent memory.

The state Department of Children and Families will seek to strip Perez of her parental rights immediately, according to a department lawyer who attended Friday's hearing.

The scene in Karlan's court reprised one that was played out Wednesday in another courtroom when Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ordered Carmen Barahona not to have any contact with her adoptive children.

On Feb. 10, the DCF's child abuse hotline received a report that the Barahonas' adopted twin boy and girl, Victor and Nubia Doctor, were being bound hand-and-foot and kept for hours in a bathtub.

Before a state investigator could find the children, authorities found Victor Doctor on the shoulder of Interstate 95 in Jorge Barahona's pickup truck doused with unidentified chemicals and in the midst of a life-threatening seizure.

Hours later, the body of Victor's twin, Nubia, was found in the truck's flatbed stuffed in a bag and covered with abrasive chemicals that were originally described as acid.

DCF administrators say they do not yet know when Nubia was killed, or whether their investigator could have saved her even if the children had been located immediately.

The hotline call had been made by Lisa Reiss, a therapist who had spoken with the Perez's 6-year-old daughter, at her father's insistence.

Esther Jacobo, the DCF's top child welfare lawyer in Miami, told Karlan at Friday's hearing that an investigator later tried to speak with the child, but the girl's mother hindered their efforts. The child cried when the investigator tried to speak with her.

Meanwhile, Karlan ordered the child to remain with her father while the investigation continues.

Late Wednesday, Palm Beach County prosecutors filed attempted first-degree murder charges against Jorge Barahona, who had been in the county jail since his pickup was found Monday night. The attempted murder charges are in addition to aggravated child abuse charges filed earlier.

"There are no conditions of release sufficient to protect the community from risk of physical harm," prosecutors said.

Another victim alleged in case of dead girl in truck 02/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 18, 2011 10:25pm]
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