The NYPD officer had been abusing his children, especially his two boys who had autism, for years. Their mom finally got custody.
Not all people who have kids should become parents. Some of those people are ill-equipped to be parents and can turn into nightmares for their children. There could be multiple reasons why they are unhappy in their lives but to take it out on a helpless child, especially one who is differently-abled, is using their power to abuse someone who can't speak up against them.
One New York police officer, Michael Valva, 40, and his fiancee, Angela Pollina, 42, were indicted when the man's son, Thomas, 8, died due to hypothermia.
There were red flags around Michael, a father of six, as per Daily News. He was on year-long probation for physically punishing his autistic sons, despite which he had continued to abuse his kids. According to ABC, 10-year-old and his 8-year-old brother were both on the autism spectrum and were “at times forced to sleep in the garage” as punishment.
They have a 6-year-old brother named Andrew. It is unclear if he was on the spectrum too. There were also indications that his children were underfed and undernourished.
And yet, the Suffolk County Family Court judge didn't remove the boys, whom he shared with ex-wife Justyna Zubko-Valva, from his home. And eventually, Thomas died after he was left to freeze to death in January 2020. The other two boys are with their mother now.
1) Exactly 6 months ago our little angel Tommy lost his precious life from the hands of his sadistic abusers Michael Valva and Angela Pollina. Tommy and his two brothers experienced unimaginable pain, suffering, brutal tortures, and horrific physical, mental and sexual abuse... pic.twitter.com/AtulVuDX2y— StandAgainstChildAbuse (@JustZub) July 18, 2020
Thomas died on the concrete floor of their Long Island home garage. Michael called 911 only the day after and said that Thomas had fallen in their driveway while waiting for the school bus. However, the boy's body temperature was found to be only 76 degrees when he was taken to the local hospital and his death was declared a homicide, as per ABC.
Michael had called his 8-year-old son a "piece of s--t" in a text message just two days before the child passed away. He had custody of his children even though their mother, teachers, and school psychologists had been trying to save them from their monstrous father, as per Daily News.
Earlier that month, prosecutors had detailed the horrifying way the children had been treated by their father and his fiancee. "As a police officer, [Valva] took an oath to serve and protect the citizens of New York City at large. However, as a parent to Thomas, as well as to Anthony, he had a duty to protect his children from physical harm and provide them adequate medical treatment,” prosecutor Kerriann Kelly said during the hearing, according to New York Post.
“The evidence, in this case, will show that the defendant failed Thomas and Anthony miserably, instead treating them in a manner that was nothing short of cruel, callous, wanton and evil," he added.
1) Yesterday was a very special day for our family - Anthony's 11th birthday ♥️🎂🎁 Celebrating Anthony's birthday brought so much joy and happiness for our family😊After many years of being unlawfully deprived from celebrating this special event with my children due to enormous pic.twitter.com/mwy6FR7tAR— StandAgainstChildAbuse (@JustZub) July 2, 2020
Shortly after their mom lost custody of them and they started living with their father in 2017, the children showed up at school hungry. "[The boys were] eating crumbs off tables and eating out of the garbage and going under the bleachers at the gym to try and find food," Kerriann said. "They were literally begging for food at school," he added.
They had not been allowed to eat breakfast and were starved as a punishment since they were not able to call Angela, "Mommy," said the prosecutor. On one occasion, the boys came to class in "pull-ups" while they reeked and had bruises. "Thomas came to school so soiled one day that the urine was squishing in his sneakers," the prosecutor described while the child's mother sobbed in the courtroom.
Their mom, Justyna, had been fighting for custody, had been documenting how he mistreated them and spoke about it through social media.
In one Tweet, she wrote, "Cop father forbids the children from coming to their mommy by painfully squeezing their hands and making them cry in order to prove that children do not want to come to their mommy. The father of my kids is a cop who is allowed to abuse bis children #PoliceBrutality [sic]."
Cop father forbids the children from coming to their mommy by painfully squeezing their hands and making them cry in order to prove that children do not want to come to their mommy. The father of my kids is a cop who is allowed to abuse bis children #PoliceBrutality pic.twitter.com/dIL30Eox30— StandAgainstChildAbuse (@JustZub) January 19, 2018
"The Child Protective Services and the Court are protecting the abusers of my children and swipe everything under the rug," Zubko-Valva wrote on November, 22, 2018. "I am heartbroken because my children are being purposely hidden from me, and unlawfully I am not being allowed to even see my children on Thanksgiving."
Thanksgiving Wish— StandAgainstChildAbuse (@JustZub) November 22, 2018
Praying to receive justice for my three little children who are being severely abused mentally and physically by their father and his woman. My children cannot receive any protection, help, and justice. pic.twitter.com/L3Gy4Nncax
Michael and Angela were indicted for second-degree murder by a grand jury and could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted. The community has been rallying with the children's mother and many attended visitation services as well, as per ABC.
A GoFundMe page was started to help the boys' mom, Justyna, who has taken in her sons.