Death of Harlem 6-year-old sparks new investigation of children's service agency

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- The New York City Comptroller says his office will once again probe the Administration for Children's Services after the death of a 6-year-old boy in Harlem who was allegedly abused.

Police say Zymere Perkins was beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend, Rysheim Smith.

That man and Zymere's mother, Geraldine Perkins, are facing charges.

She had been investigated by the ACS several times. Governor Cuomo says the state is also investigating the agency.

Smith, 42, has 18 prior arrests. He is suspected of hitting the boy with a broom stick Monday.

Perkins, 26, claims she was not home at the time of the assault. But she also made statements indicating she took no steps to stop her boyfriend's assaults of her son, authorities say.

Both are charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Bail for each was set at $50,000 cash/bond.

The boy's injuries were consistent with being struck with an object, like a broomstick. The bruises are old and new, indicating it had been over a period of time, according to investigators.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer said his investigators will follow-up on a June 2016 audit, which found ACS conducted shoddy, inconsistent, and incomplete investigations into child abuse. The inquiry will explore whether ACS has acted on any of the key reforms they committed to in June, Stringer said.

"This week, our City tragically lost another child - months after ACS pledged to enact critical reforms. This death highlights the precarious situation at this agency, and underscores the need for immediate improvements," Stringer said. "The bottom line of this investigation is simple - ACS made promises, and New Yorkers deserve to know if they've made progress."

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the death should have been prevented.

"I find it incredibly troubling and I find it unacceptable that this child was lost. Period," the mayor said.

The city's Administration for Children's Services had some prior interaction with Perkins, investigating past allegations of child abuse. The resolution of those prior allegations is unclear.

The city is also looking into the child's schooling, and whether anyone in the Education Department raised concerns. The student may not have attended classes for a period of time.
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