3 abuse complaints made before 7-year-old's death in Goodyear

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There were three complaints of possible abuse of Sanaa Cunningham made to DCS before she died. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) There were three complaints of possible abuse of Sanaa Cunningham made to DCS before she died. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
A grand jury indicted Germayne and Lisa Cunningham each on one count of first-degree murder and 10 counts of child abuse. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A grand jury indicted Germayne and Lisa Cunningham each on one count of first-degree murder and 10 counts of child abuse. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Doctors found scaring, bruising, cuts and open wounds all over her body as well as a bone-deep cut to her foot that ultimately caused an infection that took her life. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Doctors found scaring, bruising, cuts and open wounds all over her body as well as a bone-deep cut to her foot that ultimately caused an infection that took her life. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
GOODYEAR, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Arizona Department of Child Safety confirmed on Tuesday that they investigated three separate complaints of child abuse and neglect in the 11 months prior to the abuse death of a Goodyear girl. 

Sanaa Cunningham, 7, died on February 12, 2017. Goodyear police have since determined that little girl died from severe abuse and neglect.

Her father, Germayne Cunningham and his wife Lisa, have been indicted on first-degree murder charges and 10 counts each of child abuse. Germayne, at the time of the alleged abuse, was a 12-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department.

[READ MORE: Former Phoenix police detective facing murder charges following death of 7-year-old daughter]

In March 2016, DCS received a report of alleged neglect of Sanaa by the Cunninghams. In a statement released DCS said, “The investigator interviewed the children in the home and verified parents were providing Sanaa treatment for her special needs, which among other issues included a severe eating disorder. When interviewed, Sanaa herself, as well as other siblings in the home, denied any abuse or neglect. During the course of the open investigation, parents scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist and gastro-intestinal specialist as confirmed by the worker. The allegations were unsubstantiated and the case was closed.”

In October 2016, another report, this time of possible sexual abuse was received by DCS. In a statement, the child safety agency said, “The child denied sexual abuse. The DCS worker reviewed medical/psychiatric records and confirmed the parents’ efforts to provide appropriate behavioral health treatment for Sanaa. The allegations were unsubstantiated and the case remained open pending the completion of all documentation when another report was received. The department offered family preservation services to the family, but the family declined.”

[ONLINE: Arizona Department of Child Safety Statement on the Death of 7-year old Sanaa Cunningham]

The Cunninghams all along have maintained that Sanaa suffered from mental and psychological problems and was constantly hurting herself.

The third DCS involvement began in December 2016 after DCS received a report alleging neglect and abuse of Sanaa by the Cunninghams. In a statement, DCS wrote, “An investigation was initiated and still in progress when the fatality report was received. The parents presented evidence that they were providing services for the child’s mental health needs.”

The statement also said that in each instance that DCS investigated, there was not sufficient evidence to legally justify removing Sanaa from her home or to mandate court-ordered services.

The little girl died about eight weeks after the last DCS complaint. Doctors found scaring, bruising, cuts and open wounds all over her body as well as a bone-deep cut to her foot that ultimately caused an infection that took her life.

DCS director Greg McKay defended the actions of his agency saying, "This is absolutely not something that DCS missed leading to a death. There's [sic] two people's names on that indictment and it's nobody from our organization."

[READ MORE: Mother demands answers in death of 7-year-old daughter]

Sanaa’s biological mom was not willing to talk about DCS’s involvement during an exclusive interview on Monday. But her attorney, Quacy Smith believes mistakes and oversights were made.

"There were missteps, with agencies that were involved and persons that were involved that led to this child’s death. Clearly, it was preventable," said Smith.   

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Donna RossiEmmy Award-winning reporter Donna Rossi joined CBS 5 News in September 1994.

Click to learn more about Donna.

Donna Rossi

In that time, Donna has covered some of the most high-profile stories in the Valley and across the state. Donna's experience as a four-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department gives her a keen sense of crime and court stories. She offered gavel to gavel coverage of the 1999 sleepwalking murder trial of Scott Falater, and the trial and conviction of retired Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien for a fatal hit and run accident. She also spent 2 straight weeks in northeastern Arizona in the summer of 2011 covering the Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

Donna's reputation as a fair and accurate journalist has earned her the respect of her colleagues and community. Her talent as a reporter has earned her more than a dozen Arizona Associated Press Awards and five Emmy statue.

Donna previously worked as an anchor and reporter in Tucson and got her start in broadcast journalism in Flagstaff. Donna is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently serves on the NATAS board. She is a member of IFP/Phoenix, a non-profit organization of local film and documentary makers.

Donna was born in New York and moved to the Valley with her family when she was 9 years old. She is a graduate of Maryvale High School and attended Arizona State University. She graduated cum laude from Northern Arizona University.

In her free time, Donna enjoys boating on Bartlett Lake, all forms of music and theatre. Donna frequently donates her time to speak to community organizations and emcee their events. She is a past board member of DUET, a non-profit which helps promote health and well-being for older adults. Donna also loves donating her time to youth organizations and groups who work to secure and safeguard human rights.

On Oct. 17, 2015, Donna was honored for her amazing work over the years. The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences inducted her into its Silver Circle. It's one of the organization's most prestigious honors for which only a few candidates are selected each year.

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