2006_01_chaircrime.jpgThe last hours of Nixzmary Brown, who was starved, abused, tortured, and beaten to death at the hands of her parents during her seven years of life, included her stepfather Cesar Rodriguez holding her head under water and beating her, also hitting her head against the bathtub faucet, whlie she called out for her mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, who never came. Rodriguez and Santiago pleaded not guilty to murder and abuse charges. Furor is emerging over the city's Administration for Children's Services' role in Brown's death; her school's social worker and guidance counselor contacted ACS over suspicions of abuses numerous times - but the ACS found the charges to be unfounded or consistent with the family's insistence that Brown had just fallen down. Mayor Bloomberg admitted that the city failed Brown, and has one of his new deputy mayors leading the investigation into the ACS.

Rodriguez's brother told reporters that the charges were untrue: NY1 had this from Miguel Rodriguez, "Of course he's innocent. A lot of people discipline their kids in a different way. He comes from a different background, understand? We are Mexicans, so when we discipline, most Hispanics discipline their kids by giving them a spank, stuff like that. That's about it. We don't go farther than that." The NY Times reports that Rodriguez would punish Brown as well as the other five children by "dunking their heads in a water-filled sink." (The other five children appeared fine, except for signs of malnourishment.) But investigators did find a lot of evidence in the apartment, including chair that Brown was probably tied to - with the rope still on it.

The Daily News has extensive coverage of the case: Brown had apparently begged her grandmother to take her away from the home, problems at ACS with high turnover and smaller staffs and an opinion column urging people to speak out if they see signs of abuse. And Lisa Steinberg's name is being invoked over and over again, sadly because people failed to help her more, not because the city has learned its lesson.

Photograph from Newsday