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Department of Child Safety investigated baby, foster father before 2019 hot-car death

Posted at 11:50 AM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 14:50:32-04

PHOENIX — The Department of Child Safety has released more information about the death of a 4-month-old girl who was left in a hot car by her foster father in 2019.

The baby girl, Samora Cousin, died in the back of Roger (Robert) Young-Ham's van on October 1. Detectives said the man forgot the baby in the backseat before heading to work at Washington Elementary School District Service Center.

An autopsy found that the girl’s died from heat exposure. It was also ruled to be an accident and no charges were filed against Young-Ham.

On Tuesday, months later, the Arizona Department of Child Safety released an updated statement about the case after investigating the pasts of Young-Ham and the girl.

Young-Ham was an “unlicensed kinship placement” at the time of the incident, according to DCS' report. His foster license expired in 2010.

DCS also said that its department had investigated Young-Ham before.

In 2014, DCS received a report that Young-Ham had physically abused a child, but the report was unsubstantiated and the case was closed.

Young-Ham and his partner, Steven, had adopted more than a dozen children and were recognized nationally for their work fostering and adopting kids as a same-sex couple. He was also awarded for his work at the school district, where he was a supervisor.

In May 2019, DCS officials received a report that Cousin was being neglected by her parents. She reportedly tested positive for methamphetamines at the time of her birth and she was placed in an unlicensed kinship home. The case was still open at the time of the girl's death.

Cousin’s biological parents wanted charges against Young-Ham after their daughter’s death.

Cousin’s mother, Jennifer Haley,said she was notified of her daughter’s death about 18 hours after the incident.

After the incident, ABC15 learned that the girl's biological siblings were also in the foster care of the Ham family.