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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Phoenix Child Protective Services Under Investigation

Aired August 26, 2003 - 19:42   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: A prosecutor in Phoenix wants to know why two 5-year-old boys weren't freed from a cage until Saturday, even though a state agency reportedly knew about their plight, get this, two years ago. A local newspaper says a case worker for child protective services received a neglect report but never investigated. Here's more now from Jean Herworth (ph) of affiliate KPHO.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): These are the actual homemade cages 5-year-old twins Edward and Edmond Rodriguez (ph) were found locked inside. The larger one had a mattress, the other a board and blanket. They were inside a bedroom of this Phoenix home. The boys were soaked in urine and covered with bug bites. Phoenix police officers rescued the boys Saturday night after family member reported the abuse. Parents Luis and Ethelvinia Rodriguez (ph) were arrested and charged with child abuse and kidnapping. Ethelvinia (ph) admitted to officers locking the boys in crib cases, claiming her spouse mandates it, as the boys run away and her spouse cannot care for them while she works.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It hurts me a lot, man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of Rodriguez's (ph) older sons did not have anything nice to say about his dad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's no good, man. No good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (on camera): Your dad's no good?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know what was going on with these kids?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I didn't know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You didn't know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't know. I didn't know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you weren't surprised?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Neighbors, however, were surprised and shocked. So was a man who was just inside the home recently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't think it was for the kids, you know what I mean? I thought he was like putting birds or anything like that, you know, like, they're just saving the cages there or something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Robert Belltran (ph), who did some work inside the home, also saw trash and smelled urine, but didn't think much of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We put in a brand new AC. You know, I said, well, you know, they're taking good care of the kids, or you know, or the family, you know what I mean?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A county attorney says the case may prompt a grand jury probe of child protective services.

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