Captain Dennis E. Romano Jr., the commander of the Child Protection Investigation Division at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, told E! News in a statement that they “understand that from the outside looking in” that their division’s actions may “seem uncaring.”
Romano said, “But let me assure you we have the best interest of children and families in mind at all times,” adding, “The last thing anyone in this business wants to do is shelter children from their parents, but sometimes it is the only direction we are forced to take.”
Mercado, who finished third on the ABC competition in 2008, wrote on GoFundMe that she took Ra to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in March for help after her milk supply “was low.” She said CPS took her baby, who was 15 months old at the time, after claiming “we refused a B12 shot that was a matter of life and death, which is an absolute lie. We never refused a B12 shot, and at no point was he on the verge of death.”
Per the press conference, the children are currently in an estranged relative’s care and the parents are allowed to visit once a week.
E! News reached out to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office for any updates on the case or response to the press conference, but we have not heard back.