Estate Of 5-Year-Old Jordan Rodriguez Sues Catholic Charities

A photo of Jordan Rodriguez provided by the Deratany Firm.
A photo of Jordan Rodriguez provided by the Deratany Firm.
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The estate of a five-year-old boy found dead in 2017 is suing Catholic Charities, saying an agency social worker failed to report neglect and abuse.

Authorities found Jordan Rodriguez buried in his family’s yard in late 2017. His mother, Larissa Rodriguez, and her boyfriend, Christopher Rodriguez, pleaded guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter and other charges in the boy’s death.

The suit, filed Tuesday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, accuses Catholic Charities and employee Nancy Caraballo of failing to monitor Jordan’s safety or to report that he was living in substandard conditions.

Larissa and Christopher Rodriguez, who are both now serving prison sentences, are also named as defendants in the suit.

“It’s pretty clear that this child had abuse after abuse inflicted upon him,” Jay Paul Deratany, a Chicago attorney who is representing Jordan’s estate, said in an interview.

Deratany said that damages won in the case would help support Jordan’s siblings.

According to the suit, Jordan had a case open with the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services. Caraballo was supposed to check in on the family as part of Catholic Charities’ contract with early intervention program Bright Beginnings, the suit says.

Prosecutors accused Caraballo last year of buying Rodriguez’s food stamps for 50 cents on the dollar and falsifying reports about her visits to the family. Caraballo pleaded guilty to grand theft and other charges last year.

Michelle Rodriguez, who Deratany said is Jordan’s aunt, is serving as the administrator of his estate and is the plaintiff in the suit.

Last year, Deratany sued Cuyahoga County on behalf of the estate of Ta’Naejah McCloud, a five year old who died after being abused by her mother. The plaintiffs dropped the case last year, but reserved the right to bring it back. 

Catholic Charities responded to the suit in a written statement:

The shocking death of five year old Jordan Rodriguez in 2017 continues to weigh heavily on the minds of our community. While we cannot at this time comment on what is alleged in the lawsuit, Catholic Charities protects and advocates for those who are most vulnerable. All employees undergo thorough background checks and extensive training with regard to ethics and specifically their duties to report child abuse or neglect. Catholic Charities remains dedicated to its core values and will continue its mission of serving the most vulnerable throughout Northeast Ohio and furthering the healing work of Jesus.

A spokeswoman for Cuyahoga County, which is not named as a defendant in the suit, declined to comment.

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