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Nakia Venant

Child welfare workers face contempt charges after girl hangs herself on Facebook Live

by Leigh Egan

Naika Venant was just 14 years old when she turned on Facebook Live and streamed her suicide for the world to see, on January 22. Florida child welfare care workers are now facing contempt charges after they failed to show up for a court hearing to answer questions surrounding the teen’s care and what led to her killing herself.

The Miami Herald reports that the child welfare caseworkers failed to appear in court last Tuesday to explain the a Miami judge “what went wrong” and why no one was watching over Naika. Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia, apparently disturbed that the case workers failed to show up, threatened to hold them in contempt of court.

The scheduled court hearing intended to go over the details of Naika, who’d been in out of foster care since 2009. Court records indicate that Naika was a “troubled teen” who showed sign of depression and anxiety.

On Tuesday, Sampedro-Iglesia stated the foster workers and the Department of Children & Families (DCF) failed to do their jobs when they didn’t provide the court the requested information.

“I requested that representatives of the agency appear and that [request] was violated. I had requested that someone be here to testify about what happened, if anything, from Jan. 10 to the date of her death — and no one is here.”

A DCF lawyer requested more time for his client so that they could gather pertinent information, but the judge replied that the request was so inappropriate that she was at a loss for words.

“It seems to me it is totally inappropriate to file [that motion] after the fact. … I can’t even think of the appropriate adjective for a request of that nature for this type of case to be totally ignored.”

DCF regional director for children’s legal services, Clarissa Cabreja, told the judge that the reluctance to provide information when requested is because the investigation into the details surrounding Naika’s death is still ongoing, including a criminal investigation into the matter.

“Our ability to openly share information today is quite limited. We are concerned that any and all information that is disclosed may hinder the integrity of the investigation.”

In response, Sampedro-Iglesia stated that they could “agree to disagree.”

Naika’s Facebook Live Stream, entitled, “I Don’t Wanna Live No More,” went on for two grueling hours. She hung herself in the foster home’s bathroom. By the time authorities arrived, she had already passed away. Naika’s mother blamed the foster care system for not getting Naika the proper help.

[Feature Photo: Facebook]

Leigh Egan is a crime-fighting journalist and editor who specializes in breaking news and investigative true crime coverage. With more than a decade of experience under her belt, Leigh’s work can be found in a number of high-profile national publications. For Leigh, learning didn’t stop after college. She considers herself a lifelong learner who frequently takes media and journalism courses to keep abreast of the latest happenings and innovations in her field.