ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - A child welfare worker was arrested on allegations of falsifying official records in the case of Rachel Fryer, who was arrested on murder charges after her daughter's body was found in a shallow grave.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Jonathan Irizarry, 27, of Altamonte Springs, on two counts of falsifying an official record that contributes to the great bodily harm or death of an individual in the care and custody of a state agency. Friday night, he bonded out of jail.
In January and February 2014, Irizarry was a dependency case manager for the Children's Home Society of Central Florida Inc., a subcontractor of Community Based Care of Central Florida, and he was assigned to supervise the three children of Rachel Fryer, officials said.
According to the FDLE, Irizarry documented that he made checks on the children on Jan. 23 and Feb. 6, 2014, and in one instance noted the children were free from bruises.
However, a Jan. 19 photograph of Fryer's daughter, found on Fryer's phone, indicates a bruised and swollen eye and one arm in a sling, the FDLE said.
Additionally, a Feb. 12 postmortem exam of the child showed multiple healing injuries, including cuts, bruises, cigarette burns and bite marks, according to state officials.
The body of Fryer's daughter was found Feb. 11 in a shallow grave in Crescent City, Florida, and Fryer was arrested on murder charges.
Irizarry was arrested Friday morning without incident and booked into the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Seminole County on $10,000 bond.
His attorney, Eric Dubois, told Local 6, "Our position is he didn't see anything and he's not the only one who had eyes on these children in the months of January and February."
Dubois goes as far as to call his client the fall guy.
"There's investigators, he's the case worker, no one saw anything yet he's being made the scapegoat because they want to hang him on his report, which our position is it's 100 percent accurate," said Dubois.
Local 6 is told Irizarry stepped down from doing home visits after the death of the 2-year-old girl. He is still working with children, helping put them in foster homes. He plans to return to that job Monday.
Children's Home Society of Florida released the following statement:
"We learned of this arrest earlier Friday, and we will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement during the investigative process. These are very serious charges, and, as we don't have all the details yet, it's premature to comment on this case.
"We take the immense responsibility of protecting Florida's most vulnerable children extremely seriously, as we have for more than 100 years. While we fully support our case managers in doing the best job possible in a very difficult field, we do not tolerate falsification under any circumstances."
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