The Food Network star and her husband were charged with homicide through child abuse after Victoria Rose Smith's death on January 14.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 13, 2021. It has since been updated.
The biological parents of 3-year-old Victoria Rose Smith felt helpless when they learned that her adoptive parents, Food Network star Ariel Robinson, 29, and her husband, Jerry Austin Robinson, 34, were arrested for her death.
Victoria and her two older brothers were placed with the Robinsons by the S.C. Department of Social Services, according to Yahoo News. It is not known why the children were placed in foster care. The 3-year-old's biological parents, including mom Casie Phares, held an emotional funeral for their baby girl, as per Deadline. Her biological family and her other foster moms gave her a funeral after fighting hard to have the privilege to bury their child.
The social services had initially said that the child would be laid to rest quietly, and the family would not know where or when. Michelle Urps, who is friends with the family and was raised with them for some time, said people "made so much noise," the agency relented, as per Yahoo News.
The little girl's favorite things were placed with her. A blanket she had used when she lived with Casie was placed under a spray of pink roses, carnations, and lilies. Casie also added a teddy bear she used to love while Victoria's former foster mom Tiffany Huggins placed a mermaid. A preacher spoke about the girl everyone described as "sassy and smart," and the song Dancing in the Sky played in the background.
The little girl died on January 14 and it was found that she had suffered multiple blunt force injuries, as per Deadline. Among the two accused, the foster mom was the Season 20 winner of Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America. She received $25,000 for winning on the show, during which poor cooks are trained by celebrity chefs. The Food Network removed the show from its archives after the Robinsons were charged. The couple has been charged with homicide by child abuse in South Carolina.
The couple is scheduled for bond hearings on February 12. They were denied bail previously. The couple had fostered her and her two biological brothers since March 2020. They recently adopted them. It is not known if any of the other children were abused.
A Change.org petition is asking for reforms in the law. The petition added, "It appears from the start of them being in this home they were abused severely." It further said, "It is apparent that DSS and CPS did not do the due diligence needed to truly safe, healthy home. Photos posted on social media appear to show the children always recovering from bruises on their head, neck, and arms. Most of them on Victoria."
The police also allayed their thoughts on the child's death. "Police officers handle all kinds of cases, and these kind of cases can be the hardest for them to do," Simpsonville police spokesman Justin Lee Campbell told People. "It is a sad day. You bring charges and maybe convictions, but at the end of the day the life of a child was taken. For anyone who knew the victim or was related to the victim, they are in our thoughts and prayers."
Ariel Robinson, who was an aspiring stand-up comic, had portrayed her family as "happy" and "complete" on social media. "In my house, my black children get treated the same as my white children, and my white children get treated the same as my black children. It's a shame that when they go out into the real world, that won't be the case. #whiteprivilege #BlackLivesMatter," she had said online after the Capitol Hill riot, as per Daily Mail.
"It's a shame that as a proud mom to 4 beautiful boys, I can't protect them from the reality and evil of this world once they leave the house. However, I will fight and use my voice to make a difference," she had said but failed to mention Victoria in her post. It is not known why the couple killed the little girl.