Fourteen-year-old Naika Venant spent nearly three hours broadcasting herself on Facebook Live in the bathroom of her foster parent’s home as she contemplated whether or not to end her life.
Many watching the livestream pleaded with the Miami-Dade teen not to kill herself, according to a Florida Department of Children and Families report. But some egged her on, calling the situation "fake."
The report, released on Monday, alleges one of the people who sent her taunting messages appears to be her mother, Gina Caze.
Naika died after hanging herself on January 22 during the Facebook broadcast, according to the DCF.
Using the alias “Gina Alexis,” Naika’s mother allegedly sent a message prior to the girl’s suicide “that could be considered mentally injurious to her suicidal child and failed to seek help for her daughter,” according to the report.
“#ADHD games played u sad little DCF custody jit that’s why u where u at for this dumb s--t n more u keep crying wolf u dead u will get buried life goes on after a jit that doesn’t listen to there parents trying to be grown seeking boys and girls attention instead of her books,” the comment read.
But Caze's attorney, Howard Talenfeld, says the DCF's report is incorrect in asserting that Caze made the remarks during the live stream and the comment was made after Naika's death.
"She was not aware of the live feed and to this day has never seen it. She wasn't interviewed," Talenfeld told NBC News. "There was a point where in time after Naika had passed that she was told that this was a hoax, and she took a tough love approach, and made a comment on Facebook after Naika had already passed away that this kind of behavior was not going to gain positive attention."
An abuse report filed on February 9 that suggested Caze made the deriding remarks triggered DCF Secretary Mike Carroll to conduct a special review of Naika’s case, the report says.
In the months leading up to her death, Naika told her case manager that she was sad her mother had said she didn’t want the teen in her custody and that she would eventually “age out” of the foster care system, the report says.
But the report also says Naika had plans for the future and seemed “upbeat about graduating from high school” and going to college.
The report also says there was no allegation of abuse or neglect on the part of Naika’s foster parents.
Naika spent more than two years in foster care over an eight-year span, and had been in foster care for nine months when she died, the report says. Caze relinquished custody of Naika on April 20, 2016, saying she no longer wanted her daughter in her home.
The DCF received reports regarding Naika’s care for the first time in December 2006 after the then-4-year-old was left home alone without food or water for an hour, according to the report. In 2008, at age 5, Caze allegedly refused to let Naika be admitted to a hospital for a chronic health condition and called her child a “liar” and a “faker,” the report says.
In 2009, Naika was removed from her home for the first time after Caze allegedly beat the child with a belt, resulting in more than 30 marks on her arms, legs and back, the report states. Caze allegedly abused the child after discovering the 6-year-old engaging in a sexual act, according to the document.
In the nine months leading up to her death, Naika changed placements 14 times, mostly due to behavioral issues.
An assessment of Naika’s case by the DCF found that her treatment “focused primarily on the symptoms of her trauma rather than addressing the trauma itself.”
“There is little we can say that adequately describes the sorrow we still feel today from the loss of Naika,” Carroll said in a statement. “It is even more exacerbated by the information that was learned during the course of the [Critical Incident Rapid Response Team] investigation – that this is a child who endured great trauma in her life and despite many service interventions, we were not able to put the pieces back together to prevent her from taking her own life in such a public forum.”
But Talenfeld said he thinks the blame has been shifted from the DCF to Caze.
"I believe department is deflecting blame on the grieving mother instead of accepting the responsibility of the failure of its privatized agencies," he said.
After the CIRRT investigation, Carroll said changes to be implemented immediately include: Deploy a peer review team to review communication, information sharing, and transparency within the local system of care; Develop and provide training on mental health literacy for DCF child protective investigators, case managers, and foster parents; Develop training for foster parents on the use of social media by children in their care and the warning signs of inappropriate internet behavior.