Aliyah was born with several disabilities, and her right eye was deformed and turning inward toward her brain — a condition her mother knew was serious but failed to treat. Her caregivers often didn’t bother to change her diapers, resulting in rashes and bleeding.
Through it all, Aliyah’s mother was witnessed, time and time again, spewing hateful profanities at her.
The toddler couldn’t defend herself or ask for help. She could not tell authorities who had left the bruises on her upper thigh this past January. And, when a team of child abuse experts asked her mother, Chelsea Maree Huggett — a woman with admitted severe anger issues — about the injury, she exploded: “Are you accusing me of abusing my child?”
In fact, though there was mounting evidence that Aliyah was in grave danger with a mother who’d already also been accused of smothering and striking her “really hard” in a public office, state child welfare authorities never considered Huggett an abuser.
That changed on April 26, when the child was pronounced dead from a vicious beating that, in many ways, seemed inevitable. In her death, the little girl with the wisps of blond hair and a penchant for looking pretty in pink joined a tragic cluster of children who had histories with the state child protection agency before they were killed. More from Carol Marbin Miller and Audra Burch