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Local News

Father of slain baby sues organizations for releasing her to Joliet mother

Lawsuit alleges organizations failed to heed father's warnings

Shanquilla Shantell Garvey
Shanquilla Shantell Garvey

JOLIET – The father of a baby who allegedly was killed by her mother in Joliet is suing several organizations for allegedly ignoring his warnings and putting his child in harm’s way.

On Wednesday, Justin Freeman filed a lawsuit in Cook County court against Lydia Home Association and Safe Families For Children Alliance, both of which do business as Safe Families for Children, a foster care program.

Freeman is the father of Cherish Freeman, an 8-month-old baby who police said was killed by her mother, Shanquilla Shantell Garvey, 24, of Joliet. Police arrested Garvey on Dec. 20 for allegedly injuring her baby and causing skull fractures. Cherish was hospitalized but taken off life support and died about 10 p.m. Christmas Eve.

Garvey has been charged with murder.

Freeman alleges in the lawsuit that he requested Cherish to be released to him in December, but he was told by representatives for Safe Families that could not be done without Garvey’s consent. Garvey had placed Cherish in the care of Safe Families in September, the lawsuit said.

Freeman also said he told Safe Families in December he was concerned about the abuse Cherish was facing at home and how Garvey refused to allow her to be released to him. Safe Families released Cherish to Garvey without Freeman’s consent despite prior warnings and apparently in violation of its own policies and procedures, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages. Cherish’s last known address was on Linden Avenue in Bellwood, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. Court records show that Freeman, who lives on Linden Avenue, acknowledged paternity of Garvey’s child in August.

In December, Freeman started a GoFundMe campaign to give Cherish a “proper funeral and burial.” The campaign raised $1,433.

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