Mom Denied Custody Day Before Son's Fatal Beating Sues Agency After Reporting Abuse for 20 Months Before Death
Bre Micciolo says in her civil suit that her son Corey might still be alive had the agency and its case workers "adequately, properly, and fully [investigated the] reports of abuse " she made concerning her son and his father, Christopher Gregor.
The mother of a New Jersey boy allegedly murdered by his father has filed a wrongful death suit against the State of New Jersey, Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP).
Bre Micciolo says in her civil suit that her son Corey might still be alive had the agency and its case workers "adequately, properly, and fully [investigated the] reports of abuse" she made concerning her son and his father, Christopher Gregor.
She accuses the agency of "negligent, reckless, and demonstrated palpably unreasonable conduct" in the suit, and is seeking both wrongful death and survivor damages, having filed the suit on behalf of the estate of Corey Micciolo.
Inside Edition Digital obtained a copy of the suit, which was filed in Ocean County Superior Court.
"This lawsuit will not bring my son back, but it will hold DCPP accountable for him losing his life to a monster," Micciolo tells Inside Edition Digital. "They had an obligation to protect my son, they didn’t do that. They are at fault for my son's death, as well as the person who physically murdered him."
REPORTS OF ABUSE
Micciolo says that she first called DCPP to report an allegation of child abuse in September 2019, shortly after Corey began spending time with his father.
The first report came after Corey allegedly returned home with a "busted lip" and "swollen face." Corey would not say what happened, and Micciolo recalls taking pictures of his injuries and claims she submitted them to DCPP.
From that time on, Micciolo says she made sure to document any injuries and file a report with DCPP.
She made additional reports in April 2020, July 2020, and one final report on April 2, 2021, the day her son Corey died.
Micciolo provided Inside Edition Digital with some of her communications with DCPP.
In April 2020, she wrote: "I talked to someone on Friday about my son being abused, and no one continuing to investigate it. He’s got abused once again, and I found out about it yesterday. Many reports are made and nothing has been done. It’s a bruise very similar to the one made in December by his father. My family documented the bruise and my son saying he was hit at his father's household. We fear that he needs medical attention because I was told he seemed like he was in pain and had trouble doing anything like running or moving too much. Is someone going to do something about this abuse or are we going to allow his father to continue to hurt him? I have pictures of injuries that began in September which is when is father came into life. Please get back to me. Thank you."
ESTATE OF COREY MICCIOLO CIVIL SUIT
At other times, Micciolo submitted photographs showing Corey with bruises, scrapes, black eyes and what she identified as a "bite mark" in one email from July 2020.
DCPP responded by sending case workers to interview Corey, but always while he was at his father's home, says Micciolo.
"[H]e’s afraid of his father," Micciolo wrote in an email to DCPP after one of those interviews.
Micciolo says she filed seven reports with DCPP in a span of 20 months, including one after an incident on March 20, 2021.
She recalls picking Corey up from school after he spent the night at his father's and noticed injuries on his face.
Micciolo later told DCPP that her son had been forced to run on a treadmill by his father, and was physically picked up every time he fell and placed back on the machine.
She also told them that there was video which could substantiate her claims.
EMERGENCY CUSTODY BID
Micciolo has shared the texts she sent to Corey's case worker at the time with Inside Edition Digital.
"Since I’m in the area I’d like to meet with you if possible for an interview or if need be I’ll drive back to my house," Micciolo wrote the caseworker on March 25.
There was no response to that text, and five days later, Micciolo again sent a message to the case worker. "It’s Breanna I just wanted to let you know the incident took place Saturday March 20th around 4-5 p.m. to be more precise," Micciolo wrote.
That text directed the case worker to the surveillance footage at the fitness center inside Gregor's New Jersey apartment building, which captured the treadmill incident.
The probable case affidavit filed by police in Gregor's murder case describes what happens in the video.
"At approximately 1618 hours, [Corey] begins running on a treadmill. At approximately 1627 hours, Gregor approached the treadmill and appears to increase the speed," the affidavit says. "At approximately 1628 hours, [Corey] falls off of the back of the treadmill. Gregor subsequently picks [Corey] up by grabbing his shirt, putting him back in the moving treadmill. [Corey] appears to struggling to gain footing, while Gregor appears to be biting on the top of [Corey's] head.
"[Corey] regains footing and continues running on the treadmill," the affidavit continues. "Gregor appears to adjust the speed of the treadmill as [Corey] again falls off of the back. [Corey] attempts to run onto the moving treadmill four more times, falling off the back each time, while Gregor stands next to the treadmill."
Micciolo later told police that this happened because Gregor was mad at Corey.
"[Corey] told Micciolo that Gregor made him run on the treadmill really fast because Gregor was mad. While running on the treadmill [Corey] fell and hit his head," the affidavit says.
Inside Edition Digital reviewed Corey's medical report from his visit to the pediatrician after this incident. It noted that Corey had bruises all over his body, and he told the doctor that some of the bruises were the result of him falling on the treadmill and others were from playing on turf.
The doctor wrote that Corey “became tearful when he asked me to promise not to tell anyone what he said."
Micciolo says she took Corey to a local hospital that same day for X-rays and bloodwork to make sure there were no internal injuries. That visit yielded good news, as medical records showed that Corey had no internal injuries.
On March 31, 2021, Micciolo filed an Order to Show Cause seeking emergency custody of Corey while DCPP investigated her latest allegation of abuse.
DCPP had seen the video, and a case worker later told police that he photographed and investigated bruising on Corey six days after the alleged incident.
The preliminary findings submitted by DCPP about the March 20 incident played a crucial role in the judge's decision, says the ruling, which was obtained by Inside Edition Digital.
The ruling notes, however, that the court "does not find that ... Corey is in danger of imminent and irreparable harm. Therefore, the Court does not find a temporary modification of the parties' custody and parenting time arrangement appropriate at this time."
Micciolo dropped off Corey at Gregor's home at about 9 a.m. on April 2, 2021. She told police she last heard from Gregor at about 3:30 p.m., when he told her he was taking Corey to the hospital.
Two hours after he arrived at the hospital, Corey passed away according to the probable cause affidavit.
The medical examiner determined his cause of death to be blunt force injuries with cardiac and liver contusions with acute inflammation and sepsis.
Micciolo first spoke with Inside Edition Digital last month about her son's death. She expressed her frustration with DCPP, saying that the agency meant to protect children never took her seriously when she reported allegations of abuse.
“I did everything. I told them, I filmed his bruises, I recorded him telling me and my sister and my mother what his father was doing,” Micciolo said last month.
She said that the worst part was that the more her allegations were ignored, the more emboldened Gregor became in his abuse of Corey.
"The more he got away with it, the worse the abuse got," Micciolo said. "And he was aware after the first time I reported it [in 2019]."
DCPP SUBSTANTIATES ABUSE
In March 2022, prosecutors formally charged Gregor with murder and ordered him held without bond at the Ocean County Jail.
“On March 3, 2022, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office received a report from the State’s expert witness which indicated that [Corey] died as a result of blunt force impact of the chest and abdomen, and determined the manner of the child’s death to be a homicide,” Ocean County Prosecutors said in a press release after Gregor’s arrest. “An extensive investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Barnegat Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit revealed that [Corey] was in the custody of Gregor at the time he sustained his life-ending injuries and that Gregor is the individual responsible for the child’s death.”
Gregor faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.
"Cory Micciolo died from complications from Pneumonia. Our expert and even the Ocean County Medical Examiner agreed on this early diagnosis, while it is tragedy it is not a homicide," Gregor's attorney tells Inside Edition Digital. "My client completely denies all the allegations and is looking forward to a trial in a courtroom and not a trial by social media, as the Micciolos have been so diligently attempting to do.”
DCPP CASE INVESTIGATION OF COREY MICCIOLO
One year after Corey's death, the supervising assistant prosecutor in Gregor's murder case, Christine Lento, spoke about the treadmill video at a preliminary hearing.
She argued in court that the actions in the video were so egregious that Gregor should be denied bail in the case and be held in jail until trial.
"The video that was viewed by the court really speaks for itself in illustrating that this defendant did abuse this child," Lento said in court. "I think when you watch the video, it’s fair to say that anyone who would do this to a child does pose a significant risk to the community."
Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels did not rule in Lento's favor, but did write about the video in his order.
"It did show intolerant, cruel, despicable and injurious type of behavior by this defendant and that’s what the state focuses on for detention," Judge Daniels wrote.
Corey had been dead for a year by then, and Micciolo says it was heartbreaking to think how different things could have been if the judge and DCPP case worker who oversaw her custody bid felt as strongly as this prosecutor and judge when they saw the video.
"I feel like I did everything I could possibly do to prevent this. I shouldn’t have been forced to drop him off that day," Micciolo tells Inside Edition. "I wish I never did, but at the end it would’ve been the same result since no one was listening or doing anything. If I didn’t take him that day, I probably would’ve been arrested and he would’ve been there another day."
She adds: "There was nothing that could’ve stopped his murder besides for DCPP stepping in."
Two of Micciolo's allegations of abuse were eventually substantiated by DCPP.
Letters received by Micciolo, which she shared with Inside Edition Digital, show that these were the reports she filed after the treadmill incident and hours before Corey died.
DCPP sent the letters substantiating Micciolo's allegations to her 20 months after Corey died. The letters also both state: "The Division will not be providing further services to Corey Micciolo and his family."
The New Jersey Department of Child Protection and Permanency did not respond to Inside Edition Digital's multiple requests for comment.
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