24-pound, 6-year-old boy removed from relatives City first-grader placed in foster care

July 08, 1992|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,Staff Writer

A 6-year-old West Baltimore boy who was removed Sunday from the home in which he was allegedly abused and underfed was again taken from relatives yesterday and placed in foster care.

The Baltimore Department of Social Services removed Maurice Royster from the care of his great-grandmother, Eugenia Harrington, citing concerns over the extent to which other family members may have known of the alleged abuse and failed to alert authorities.

The alleged abuse was reported to police Sunday by two 14-year-old girls, Maurice's twin aunts and the daughters of the woman accused of the abuse. The girls told police that their mother beat Maurice, often locked him in the basement and repeatedly failed to feed him.

Maurice, who weighs only 24 pounds, was taken from his grandmother's home in the 1500 block of N. Payson St. by police Sunday. His grandmother, Yvonne Johnson, 46, and her boyfriend, James Carroll, 55, have been charged with child abuse and battery in the case.

On Monday, a juvenile court placed Maurice and a 5-year-old sister in the temporary custody of their great-grandmother. But yesterday protective services workers, accompanied by police, fetched Maurice and his sister. They told Mrs. Harrington the children would be placed in foster care until their investigation of the alleged abuse was completed.

"They feel somebody in the family knew" about the alleged abuse, Mrs. Harrington told a reporter, explaining what she herself had been told by the officials.

Social services officials also placed in foster care the two 14-year-old girls, who had been placed in the custody of a brother. The social services agency would not comment on the case, citing confidentiality laws.

Meanwhile, school officials said yesterday that staff at Matthew A. Henson Elementary School, where Maurice was a first-grader last spring, had been in touch with the family because the boy TC had missed 42 of 102 days.

But the Maurice they taught did not resemble the tiny boy seen on television and whom University of Maryland Medical Center officials concluded was suffering from "severe malnutrition."

"The child never told anyone he was being mistreated. He was not emaciated and certainly not weighing 24 pounds in school," said Nat Harrington, a spokesman for the city school system. "They knew he was smaller in stature, and the school nurse and the school social worker were engaged with him and his family because of the attendance issue."

Maurice had been living with his grandmother at the North Payson Street house ever since his 5-year-old sister, Swiyette, was born, his great-grandmother said. Mrs. Harrington, who is not related to the school spokesman, said her daughter was given custody of the children because Maurice's mother had a drug problem.

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