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Elisa Izquierdo (February 11, 1989–November 22, 1995) was a six-year-old girl who became a symbol of child abuse in the USA after being beaten to death by her mother Awilda Lopez, a New York City drug addict, in 1995. Her story first made city-wide and then national headlines when it became clear that New York City's Child Welfare System (now the Administration for Children's Services) missed many opportunities to intervene with her family and to save her life, thus bringing the CWA (ACS) under critical speculation.

In the media, Elisa was frequently called a modern-day Cinderella because she had been under the protection of a loving father, Gustavo Izquierdo, until his death from cancer on May 26, 1994 (the very day he'd planned to send her to Cuba to protect her from her mother), and had befriended Prince Michael of Greece through her school before coming into her mother's custody. Her life story became the subject of much speculation in the media, from New York tabloid newspapers like the New York Daily News and The New York Post to the cover of Time Magazine. Her story was featured on an August 1996 episode of Dateline NBC. Her funeral drew an estimated 300 mourners.

On February 12, 1996, Governor George E. Pataki signed into law legislation known as Elisa's Law, which is designed to balance the need for increased accountability, through public knowledge and government oversight, with the privacy interests of individuals involved in child protective services cases. In the summer of 1996, Awilda Lopez was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison (until 2010) for killing her daughter; Lopez's companion, Carlos, was also sentenced for his part in her death.

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References

  • Peyser, Mark and Carla Powell. "The Death of Little Elisa.", Newsweek, December 11, 1995
  • Van Biema, David. "Abandoned to Her Fate: Neighbors, Teachers and the Authorities All Knew Elisa Izquierdo Was Being Abused, But Somehow Nobody Managed To Stop It.", Time Magazine, December 11, 1995

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