BEFORE ANTOINE PETTY beat his 2-month-old son to death and buried his body in a wooded lot in Prince George's County, he had been the subject of a number of inquiries involving abuse of some of his eight other children. There was the time he was accused of carving a three-inch cross into his 5-year-old daughter's arm, and the time he allegedly pushed a 5-year-old down stairs, and the time he reportedly forced one of his daughters to watch him have sex with a girlfriend. Incredibly, that is not even a complete list, which raises troubling questions about the safety net for vulnerable children in Prince George's County.
The previous investigations by Child Protective Services of Mr. Petty were revealed, as The Post's Lynh Bui reported, when the 33-year-old man was sentenced last week to 40 years in prison for the Sept. 21, 2016, death of his infant son, Antoine Flemons. Mr. Petty, given the maximum sentence for child abuse resulting in death, admitted to hitting the baby when he wouldn't stop crying and later burying the child's body in a shallow grave. His wife and the baby's mother, Geneice Petty, is set to be sentenced in December on the charge of involuntary manslaughter.
"Nobody came to the defense of this baby, not his family, not the government, not his parents," said Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks. "He was literally a defenseless baby." Confidentiality laws shield Child Protective Services, so it's not known what — if any — actions were taken in response to reports over the past decade of children malnourished, with black eyes and broken ribs. Why, for instance, weren't charges pursued in 2007 when doctors at Children's National Medical Center determined that broken ribs in an 11-month-old were not an accident? What did authorities know about this man's reported mental problems?
County officials have told us they too are disturbed by this case and are conducting a rigorous review to determine if mistakes were made and if changes need to be made to the system. Given there were so many signs of trouble, the answers seem obvious. There should be an accounting to the public before all is said and done.