Dad held in baby’s death had assault history — (St. Petersburg Times)

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St. Petersburg Times

July 31, 2001

Author: DONG-PHUONG NGUYEN

An 18-year-old man accused last week of killing his infant daughter because she vomited on him was arrested last year for assaulting the baby’s mother in Worcester, Mass., records released Monday reveal. Officials of Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) knew something else about Juan Ferrer – that he had been committed to a residential home for drug abuse counseling two years ago, according to Massachusetts officials.

DCF investigated Ferrer after his girlfriend, Evelyn Saez, gave birth to a daughter in Tampa four weeks ago and determined there was not probable cause to take the baby from the home, said DCF spokeswoman Shawnna Lee.

The baby, named Yarine, remained in the house that Ferrer and Saez shared with Ferrer’s mother on the condition that the couple seek assistance from support services such as Healthy Start, which they did, Lee said.

“There was a good chance this child would be in safekeeping,” Lee said, backing up a caseworker’s investigative report released Monday detailing the events leading up to the baby’s death. “I think we did as much as we possibly could.”

Last week, Ferrer was accused of flinging Yarine against a dresser because she spit up on him while he burped her. The impact lacerated her liver, killing her.

The DCF report said that Ferrer was taking Zoloft, a brand of medicine prescribed for treatment for depression, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. He was also seeing a therapist.

Ferrer was arrested in Worcester on Aug. 15, 2000, for assaulting Saez while the two were living in an apartment, said Worcester police Lt. William O’Connor.

Ferrer pushed Saez on a bed and pinned her down. She broke free and ran to a nearby hospital, with Ferrer in pursuit. Inside the hospital, he threw her against a wall, O’Connor said. Police officers charged Ferrer with assault and battery.

According to Worcester District Court and probation officials, Ferrer was sentenced to probation and ordered to take an anger management course.

A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services said it is unclear whether Ferrer ever completed the course. His probation officer is on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment.

A warrant was issued for Ferrer’s arrest in February for violating terms of his probation, but a spokeswoman for the probation department said she did not know what the violation was.

However, Ferrer did take anger management classes after another brush with the law, said Department of Youth Services spokeswoman Mary Sylva.

In August 1999, Ferrer was committed to youth services for trespassing, shoplifting and possession of marijuana, she said.

He stayed in an assessment unit, during which time he was taught how to manage his temper.

In November 1999, he was placed in a residential home where he received counseling for substance abuse.

Lee, the DCF spokeswoman, said case workers went “above and beyond” in getting Ferrer and Saez help in raising their baby.

“I think the father is at fault,” she said. “I don’t think the agency is.”
Record Number:  0107316195557880881510