MCHENRY COUNTY, Ill. — A McHenry County judge found one of the two former DCFS workers guilty of ignoring signs of child abuse in the case of 5-year-old A.J. Freund.
Carlos Acosta was found guilty. Andrew Polovin was found not guilty.
The State’s attorney said A.J. should be getting ready to celebrate his 10th birthday which would have been Saturday had Acosta and Polovin made any effort to protect the child.
They are accused of ignoring signs of abuse and failing to remove 5-year-old A.J. Freund from his Crystal Lake home despite multiple police reports indicating the situation.
“At the end of the day, this and I’m speaking right now to Mr. Acosta, is a refusal to investigate. I therefore find you guilty of neglecting and endangering the welfare of a child. Counts one and two,” Judge George Strickland said. “Regarding you, Mr. Polovin, you have been somewhat of a phantom in this case. And I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing, as I suspect it’s a bad thing.”
Both Polovin and Acosta pleaded not guilty to child endangerment and reckless conduct charges in 2020.
“(Polovin) makes material omissions. I believe that he did so on purpose … He did and admitted what I considered to be the very obvious facts of this case. … Don’t take anything that I’m saying today is in any way exonerating you of your responsibility as far as I’m concerned, you completely abdicated your responsibility in this case,” Strickland said. “However, because I don’t know exactly what you knew and when you knew it, I cannot find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. So I find you not guilty.”
Testimony was heard from emergency room doctors who treated Freund. Freund was murdered in 2019 by his parents and his body was found in a shallow grave after his parents claimed he was missing.
His parents, Joanne Cunningham and Andrew Freund, were both convicted of numerous charges in connection to his murder and are serving at least 30 years in prison.
The defense has tried to poke holes in the police reports for a lack of consistency and defense attorneys have said both workers followed procedures.
Expert witnesses said the two did superficial work and that there was more than enough evidence to move A.J. from the home. Prosecutors say if they had done their jobs, A.J. may still be alive.
“At the end of the day, this is what it is. He was failed by the adults in his life. He died. He was tortured to death. He deserved due process, A.J. Never got due process from DCFS,” Strickland said. “He died suffering. And I hold the two of you and DCFS responsible for that.”