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CALL 6: Witness says 2-year-old's death was preventable

Woman called police after seeing toddler's bruises
Posted at 5:36 PM, Nov 06, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS -- A concerned citizen says a 2-year-old boy may be alive today if authorities had heeded concerns about alleged child abuse.

Morgan Lovrovich contacted police on September 22 after seeing a toddler with two black eyes at the Plato’s Closet on East Washington Street.

“He had marks around his neck and up and down his arms,” said Lovrovich. “I came outside and I called the police, and the police came and I gave them my story.”

Lovrovich said the little boy’s father and the father’s girlfriend, Dilcia Chavez Claros, told police a different story. “They said he fell off a table,” said Claros.

Six weeks after Lovrovich contacted police, 2-year-old Jose Cubas Rivas died November 1 when Claros brought him into the hospital unconscious.

Rivas had brain injuries so severe, doctors had to remove parts of his skull to alleviate swelling.

"It just felt like it could have been prevented if more steps were taken," said Lovrovich. “If he had been taken out of the home, he could still be here today. I just want to be his voice.”

Claros is charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death.

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Lovrovich’s account of suspected child abuse is included in court documents filed by Marion County prosecutors against Claros.

Lovrovich is not the only one who called authorities about Jose Rivas.

A social worker who had been in the family’s east side home called the Indiana Department of Child Services on September 20 after noticing bruises on Rivas, records show.

The social worker never heard from a DCS investigator, according to court records.

An Indianapolis Metro Police officer also contacted the Indiana Department of Child Services following Lovrovich’s report of suspected abuse.

“(Officer Gray) spoke to the DCS employee on the phone and ensured she arrived at the home to investigate shortly after he left,” read court documents.

It’s unclear what DCS did or didn’t do in Jose Rivas’ case.

The agency can’t legally comment on whether they have an open case on a child or family.

DCS did provide the following protocol for how reports of suspected abuse and neglect are handed:

  1. A report comes into the hotline 800.800.5556
  2. An Intake Specialist takes the report. That person is a trained Family Case Manager
  3. After the report the Intake Specialist confers with their Intake Supervisor about the report
  4. Together the Intaje Specialist and Supervisor make a recommendation to the local office (county where the allegation is taking place) to assess or not assess the allegation, based on the information from the report
  5. The local office receives the report and the recommendation from the Hotline
  6. The local office makes the decision to assess or not assess the allegation

“A report source can remain anonymous, however, if there is important info we would like to follow-up with the report source on, we can’t if we don’t have any info on the report source,” said DCS spokesperson James Wide. “For example, if the report source gave the wrong address…when we went to the home there were no children there or the home was vacant. If we had the report source contact info we could confirm the address.”

Lovrovich found out about the 2-year-old’s death by reading the story on the RTV6 app.

“I cried and cried as soon as I saw the headline come across my phone,” said Lovrovich. “If he was taken out of the home, and put in foster care or moved in with a relative, he would still be here.”

Lovrovich is frustrated and sad the little boy she tried to save is gone.

“It’s sad,” said Lovrovich. “No kid should have to go through this and it’s happening all too often.”

Call 6 Investigates put in a request to speak with Claros from jail and she declined.  Her trial is scheduled for January.

If you see a child you suspect might have been abused, call the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-800-5556.