What to Know
- Police and social workers were called to the home of 2-year-old Damien Ventura multiple times this year before the toddler died in July
- Damien died in July 3, just days before his 3rd birthday
- Two calls for alleged abuse came days apart in January, according to documents obtained by the NBC4 I-Team
The father of 2-year-old Damien Ventura said Monday he did not see his son the day he died but when he went to the hospital he was told to remember him the way he knew him.
"I never thought I would be burying my son," said the father, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He says he's speaking out to make sure he gets answers about his death. He and the boy's mother had been involved in a divorce and were in a custody battle.
Damien's mother and her boyfriend told police the boy fell in the bathtub, and the boyfriend took the toddler to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on July 3.
A source close to the investigation told NBC4 there was bruising on the body as well as internal injuries. The coroner has not yet determined the cause of death.
Damien's father says he began noticing marks on his son's body late last year following the boy's visits with his mother. He says he snapped pictures of his son after drop-offs. In January, he says he took Damien to the hospital. He said his son had a red eye, a bruise and scratches.
"They were the ones that actually told me, 'We are going to bring the social workers in,'" he said.
The NBC4 I-Team revealed last week that police and social workers visited the home where the boy lived several times last year. Police were called to the home where the boy lived with his mother twice in January for alleged abuse.
In an assessment that same month, the LA County Department of Children and Family Services determined, "no safety threats were identified at this time," according to county documents.
Damien's father said that when he asked his mother what happened, she said he was "just playing, he fell down."
Through her father, Damien's mother declined to comment for this article. No one has been arrested or charged in connection with Damien's death.