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DCF Failed To Protect Hardwick Boy Allegedly Abused By His Father, Report Finds

The Department of Children and Families provided inadequate case oversight of a 7-year-old Hardwick boy allegedly abused by his father and who's now in a coma, according to an internal review released Friday.

The report found the department failed to pull together multiple abuse reports that ultimately led to the failure to adequately protect the child.

The boy, Jack, and his father, Randall Lints, had been receiving DCF services for months, before the state took emergency custody of the child. According to the review, nine so-called 51A reports "were filed with DCF over the course of six months alleging abuse or neglect of Jack."

"I think the question people are asking is, with so many eyes on the child, how did we end up in this place?" Gov. Charlie Baker said during a news conference about the report. "And I would argue that this is a failure, systemically, of many of the players involved, including the [state]."

The review said the department did some things right in the case, including carrying out appropriate visits, filing required reports, and delivering extensive services to the parent and child.

But, the report concludes, "DCF views the failure to protect Jack as an indication of systemic failures both internal and external to DCF."

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The state took custody of Jack on July 14 and brought him to a hospital after his father, Lints, called 911 to say his son was unresponsive.

Jack had burns on the soles of his feet, appeared malnourished, and weighed 38 pounds. He's currently in a long-term rehabilitation facility.

In December 2014, Lints had expressed concern to DCF about his parenting abilities, but, according to the review, "at no time was Mr. Lints' parenting capacity formally assessed by DCF, the probate court, or any of the service providers." The report says an assessment is "imperative."

Lints has pleaded not guilty to assault and child endangerment charges. At a dangerousness hearing, where Lints was held on bail, his attorney said "there may be plenty of blame to go around” for Jack's condition.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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