- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 8, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Four child welfare workers have been placed on leave following revelations a 7-year-old girl may have been forced into prostitution and pickpocketing.

The New Mexico attorney general’s office indicated in court records that police and state child welfare workers had multiple encounters with the girl’s family but she and her two older brothers were not removed from the home. The department had received more than 20 referrals of possible neglect and abuse of the children over the last several years.

The girl’s parents were arrested last week. The father is charged with human trafficking, promoting prostitution and other counts. The mother is charged with abuse of a child and contributing to the delinquency of a child. They remained in Albuquerque jail.

The Associated Press, as a matter of policy, is not naming the parents to avoid identifying the child, who authorities have identified as a victim of a crime. Messages requesting comment Tuesday from attorneys for each of the defendants were not immediately returned.

Albuquerque school officials said they alerted authorities last month about possible human trafficking.

State Children, Youth and Families Department officials confirmed Monday that four case workers in the child protective division were placed on paid administrative leave while the case is investigated, the Albuquerque Journal reported .

The names of the workers were not released because of a confidentiality clause in the state personnel code, department spokesman Henry Varela said.

Department Secretary Monique Jacobson said last week that she launched an internal investigation over concerns with how the agency had handled the child’s case. She cited concerns that the department may not have done enough to protect the girl.

“I have many concerns, both with the number of referrals and the action, or lack of action, based on the information in those referrals,” Jacobson said.

The children are now in state custody.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

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