Police reports related to AJ Freund can be used as evidence against DCFS workers

Nineteen police reports that Department of Children and Family Services employees failed to seek during an investigation into the abuse of Crystal Lake boy AJ Freund can be admitted as evidence in an upcoming trial, a judge has ruled.

Judge George D. Strickland will allow the reports over the objection of the defense attorneys for former DCFS investigator Carlos Acosta and his former supervisor, Andrew Polovin.

Acosta, 56, of Woodstock, and Polovin, 50, of Island Lake, each face two counts of endangering the life of a child and health of a minor and one count of reckless conduct related to their handling of AJ's case.

The 5-year-old boy's parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund, later were convicted for their roles in their son's April 2019 death. Authorities say AJ died after being made to stand in a cold shower while his mother berated and beat him before putting him to bed wet, cold and naked. His parents later buried him in a shallow grave in a field near Woodstock and reported him missing, police said.

Assistant McHenry County State's Attorney Ashley Romito said the police reports document a history of mental illness, domestic battery, theft, drug abuse and other allegations against AJ's parents. However, authorities said, neither Acosta nor Polovin requested the reports after a police-activated emergency call to the Freund home in December 2018.

Failing to follow DCFS procedures and obtain the history of police contact with AJ's parents and their home "put (AJ) in dangerous circumstances that led to his torture and murder some months later," Romito said.

They should have reviewed all police reports and used them "as a tool showing risk factors when making decisions in AJ's case," she added.

It has not yet been determined whether the cases will be heard before a jury or Strickland in a bench trial, or if their cases will be heard at the same time or separately

Cunningham pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Freund pleaded guilty to aggravated battery to a child younger than 13 causing permanent disability, involuntary manslaughter of a family member and concealment of a homicidal death and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

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Carlos J. Acosta
Andrew R. Polovin
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