HAYWARD. Calif. (KRON) – The grandmother of a little girl who was killed is suing Alameda County and three of its employees. Sophia Mason, 8, from Hayward was found dead last year in Merced County. Her mother and the mother’s boyfriend have been charged with her death.
“Obviously, no money will bring her back, but the family is focused on making sure another family does not face this and that everyone is safer at large,” said Carly Sanchez, who is representing Sophia’s grandmother Sylvia Johnson.
Sophia lived with her grandmother in the East Bay for most of her life. But in the fall of 2021, Johnson told authorities that her daughter showed up demanding Sophia live with her.
Eight months later, the little girl was found dead. Her body was decomposed in a bathtub.
“The evidence shows she was abused and tortured and the county looked the other way. No one followed up – it could have saved her life,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez says Johnson and other family members tried to get Alameda County social services to intervene — alleging neglect and abuse in her mother’s care. Sanchez says one of the most troubling findings is that a hospital worker called county workers about extensive bruising on Sophia, indicative of sexual assault.
“At every instance, no one was called, not law enforcement. She was obviously tortured,” Sanchez said.
The Alameda County Department of Children and Family Services and three employees are cited in the suit that asks for financial damages. KRON4 News reached out to the county, but no one returned those calls or emails.
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“These cases do not happen in a vacuum, there is a grave concern that they are ignoring state regulations, and that needs to be fixed,” Sanchez said.
Sophia’s mother — Samantha Johnson — and Johnson’s once-boyfriend Dhante Jackson now face multiple counts, including murder. Their preliminary hearing is set for June.