BROOKLYN - A year after Nixzmary Brown was found savagely beaten to death in her Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment, questions remain about how to protect Brooklyn children from the same fate.
The child's mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, and stepfather, Cesar Rodriguez, are charged with murder in the crime, which police say they earlier confessed to. New Yorkers were stunned after learning the 7-year-old was beaten, gagged and bound. The case prompted the shakeup of the city's troubled Administration for Children's Services (ACS). The agency admitted it was aware of problems in the home before the child's death on January 11, 2006, but cited bureaucracy and communication problems with its failure to act sooner. An ACS whistleblower, Rosalie Harman, claims there was a cover-up and she believes children will continue to die.
ACS has hired more caseworkers, lowered caseloads and the city has pumped millions into the agency. However, figures show more children died due to suspected abuse following Nixzmary's death than the year before.