Opportunities Were Missed to Save Brooklyn Girl: ACS

Mother charged with assault; child may have been tied to bed

By Andrew Siff
|  Tuesday, Oct 5, 2010  |  Updated 3:40 PM EDT
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Carlotta Brett-Pierce (inset) was arrested in connection with the death of her 4-year-old daughter.

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The head of New York's children's services agency says it's still unclear whether child protective workers made enough visits to the home of a four-year-old Brooklyn girl before she was found dead last month -- apparently abused and massively undernourished.

Marchella Pierce was found dead in her Beford-Stuyvesant home on Sept. 2. Prosecutors allege Marchella was beaten. Police said she appeared severely underweight and may have been tied to a bed. She was born with lung problems.

The Administration for Children's Services Commissioner John Mattingly testified to the City Council today that "documentation in the case is insufficient, and it is unclear whether the necessary visits were made." 

NBCNewYork was first to report last month that there was a lack of documentation in the case.

Mattingly added "as a city, we needed to do more to help her."

ACS had previously suspended child protective specialist and one supervisor for 30 days pending a final determination.

Last month, New York City's public advocate opened an inquiry into whether Pierce's death could have been prevented.

Among other things, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio wants to know whether a decision to reduce family services contributed to her death.

A Brooklyn grand jury has indicted her mother on second-degree assault charges.

Pierce's case was never closed. The city ended a contract with the agency that was supposed to be monitoring her, citing poor performance, but then never concluded an investigaiton. De Blasio says that between April and July, about 5,000 fewer children were receiving preventive services.

The ACS is also reviewing the case.

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