ACS workers reach plea deal in girl's death

Sarah Wallace reports that they will get no jail time.
December 17, 2013 3:29:51 PM PST
A New York City social worker and his supervisor pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in the death of a 4-year-old girl.

They had been charged with felony crimes.

The child they were supposed to help protect was beaten and starved to death by her mother.

They had always maintained they were scapegoats: one time ACS case worker, Damon Adams, and his supervisor, Chareece Bell, were accused of criminally negligent homicide for failing to prevent the death of a 4-year-old Brooklyn child 3 years ago.

Marchella Brett-Pierce had been tied to her little bed by her mother, starved, and beaten.

Tuesday there was a compromise. The two fired ACS employees agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges with no jail time. They told Eyewitness News after; it was time to move on.

"I've been kind of ripped away from my passion; this was not just a job for me it was a career. It was something that I was dedicated to, I gave my life to it, I sacrificed for," said Chareece Bell, the former ACS supervisor.

"It's a complete tragedy, it's been a lot to go through, it's been a tough ordeal, the three years feel like they last forever," said Damon Adams, the former ACS case worker.

It was the first ever prosecution of its kind in New York State: social workers, who claimed they were overworked and understaffed, blamed for deadly negligence when relatives were clearly guilty of a child's abuse.

Marchella's mother was ultimately convicted of the little girl's murder, and her grandmother of manslaughter.

"When can you possibly justify the prosecution of a case worker for the warped and twisted actions of a mother and a grandmother who are responsible for killing their own child?" said Anthony Grandinette, Adam's attorney.

Adams and Bell have agreed to perform hundreds of hours of community service with high-risk kids or adults.

If they do that, the criminal charges will be dismissed and the record will be sealed.