CPS supervisor speaks out about charges

March 29, 2011 2:50:50 PM PDT
One of the two New York City child welfare workers charged in the death of an abused little girl is speaking out.

Chereece Bell, a supervisor with ACS, is accused of failing to intervene in the ongoing and horrific abuse.

"I never would have thought that a job that I loved so much would and took so much pride in would, would be the reason why I'm so miserable today," Chereece Bell said.

Chereece Bell was on the fast track; after six years as a case worker she got promoted to a first level supervisor, and eight months later she was promoted again to second level supervisor.

The 32-year-old showed Eyewitness News glowing reviews over those 11 years; including the removal of nearly 1,000 allegedly abused and neglected children.

The former ACS supervisor juggled the demanding job, raising two kids and finishing up a master's degree.

"I just feel like everyone has forgotten all the good that I've done," Bell said.

Bell and case worker Damon Adams are charged with criminally negligent homicide.

Brooklyn prosecutors took the rare step saying their job failures cost Marchella Pierce her life.

The 4-year-old was found tied to a bed.

She was starved, beaten and drugged.

"Initial reaction was fear. Betrayal. I feel like everyone has forgotten how much good work I've done. What about all those children I have saved?" Bell said.

Prosecutors say Marchella was just 18 pounds when she died.

But Bell sheds more light on the case.

Marchella was born premature with underdeveloped lungs.

She had a breathing tube in her throat and spent most of her life in the hospital.

Case worker Damon Adams is accused of lying about visits to Marchella's home.

Bell is accused of failing to keep an eye on him.

"I have a worker. That's his role. I'm not responsible to go out and make home visits. That's why I have staff and that is the role of my staff to go out and investigate as a child protective specialist, that then they're supposed to come to me with information so that we can make a decision on what to do," Bell said.

"We look forward to getting an acquittal. Getting it dismissed or an acquittal. But that will never restore her name to what it was and might make it hard for her to get another job in her chosen field," said Joshua Horowitz, Bell's attorney.

Chereece Bell is out on $25,000 bail.

Her heart breaks for the little girl she never met.

She blames the child welfare agency.

It's a system, she says, with workers who are overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.

"I think the issue is way bigger then Chereece Bell. Way bigger. I am not the problem at all," Bell said.