CYFD faces another lawsuit in 2021 child abuse case

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department is facing another lawsuit. The state agency is accused of gross negligence in a child abuse case that resulted in the death of a young girl.

Diana McGrory’s father, who had custody at the time, is the one charged in her death. However, some say she should have never been in his care.

The suit claims that CYFD should have known Michael Garcia had a violent past when they put the young girl and her siblings in his care.

Garcia appeared in court virtually last week, changing his plea nearly two years after he was charged with child abuse resulting in death.

“This states that you are intending to change your plea from not guilty, to guilty of murder in the second-degree, abuse of a child resulting in great bodily harm, abuse of a child no death or great bodily harm,” said Judge Clara Moran during his motion hearing.

On Oct. 1, 2021, police were called to his home in northeast Albuquerque and found his 2-year-old daughter Diana dead.

Investigators at the time said her body was significantly burned and bruised.

During the hearing last week, the judge asked him how he pleaded to the charges to which he responded, “Guilty.”

A new civil suit against CYFD says the agency failed the little girl, stating the CYFD investigator and supervisor assigned to the case should have never let Diana and her siblings into Garcia’s care after their biological mother lost custody in July 2021.

The suit says, “CYFD did not assess the safety of the children with Michael Garcia…despite knowing that the risk of abuse and neglect for these children was high.”

The suit also states that CYFD should have known about Garcia’s criminal history. Citing charges for “aggravated assault against a household member, battery, a history of domestic violence, and a warrant out for his arrest at the time.”

It also detailed the history of CYFD investigations and the long paper trail of abuse leading up to 2-year-old Diana’s death.

KOB 4 reached out to CYFD about the lawsuit in a statement a spokesperson said, “They cannot comment on active cases, all information will be released in court.”

As for Garcia, he is expected to be sentenced in two weeks.