Family of Murdered Joliet Toddler Semaj Crosby Receives $6.4 Million Settlement

The slain child's father and four siblings filed a civil suit against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services shortly after her death in 2017.

NBC Universal, Inc.

A settlement of more than $6.4 million has been reached between the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the family of Semaj Crosby, the 17-month-old who was found dead under a couch in her Joliet home nearly five years ago.

Attorney Jay Paul Deratany brought a civil case against Illinois DCFS on behalf of Semaj's father and her siblings.

According to a DCFS report released after the toddler's death in 2017, caseworkers had responded to the Joliet home 10 times before the girl was reported missing by her mother.

“The criminal investigation we expected to be over, and it’s a surprise to us that it wasn’t,” Deratany said.

Part of the problem, according to the lawyer, was the contractors hired by DCFS in what he called "a total system failure."

"They failed in a lot of ways, and they had a contract with DCFS, but DCFS also failed significantly," he added. "They were in the home, they were supposed to go there, they’re also supposed to monitor their contracts.”

In a statement, DCFS told NBC 5, in part, "Improvements in child welfare are never quick or easy. Many of the challenges we face are longstanding and entrenched, but everyone in this administration is deeply committed to overcoming them and providing the care that our vulnerable children and families truly deserve.”

Semaj’s father, James Crosby did not want to speak about the case, but said through his attorney, "’s never going to bring my daughter back, and I still want to find out who did it.”

Deratany told NBC 5 that the money from the settlement will go into a trust for Semaj’s four siblings. They will each likely have access to it after they turn 18.

No one has been charged in the young girl’s death, but family told NBC 5 Investigates back in 2018 that the last relative to see the girl alive was her mother. Would she have access to her children’s money?

“There’s a lower standard in probate court," Deratany responded. "So, if the court by preponderance of the evidence that she was responsible for the death of Semaj, then she will not get any money.”

The Will County State’s Attorney’s office said on Friday that it cannot comment on open investigations. The case still remains open and unsolved.

Contact Us