SEATTLE, Feb. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A Whatcom County court today determined the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) must pay $8 million to two girls it placed in a foster home that the state knew housed a known child molester, leading to years of abuse.
According to the complaint filed, DSHS placed the girls, ages 6 and 3, into a foster home without properly interviewing and screening the residents' background. A simple search of the agency's own database would have revealed that one of the children in the family was accused of sexually assaulting a five-year-old cousin, the suit stated.
The two young girls were subsequently sexually, emotionally and physically abused for many years by two brothers living within the foster home.
"This was an unimaginable misstep by the agency whose sole purpose is to safeguard children," said Raymond Dearie, the attorney for the girls. "Because of the agency's gaping oversight, two innocent little girls were led into a horrible environment of depravity and violence, and their lives will never be the same."
According to Dearie, DSHS was aware as early as August 2001 that allegations of sexual misconduct were leveled against one of the brothers in the family.
On November 13, 2015, Judge Ira Uhrig granted the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgement on liability. The trial, and today's jury verdict, were limited exclusively to the issue of damages.
"We were extraordinarily reluctant to put the girls through the emotional tumult of a trial, and fought to try to convince the state to settle the liability aspect of the case," Dearie said. "The sad reality is that the state showed little interest in finding a negotiated settlement fully cognizant of the impact on the girls."
Dearie added that the girls dealt with emotional strains of the trial well. "The girls have fought this battle with grace and courage that is nothing short of inspirational."
On September 30, 2014 the youngest brother of the family pled guilty to three counts of felony child molestation and was sentenced to serve 66 months in prison. The other abusing brother has also been charged with felony sexual abuse and evaded law enforcement for more than two years, the claim states. This brother is currently incarcerated in the Whatcom County jail awaiting trial, which is scheduled for later this month.
"We know that no amount of money will restore the permanent and painful injuries and loss of enjoyment of life, but we are optimistic the jury's verdict will open the possibility that those injured by DSHS's negligence can start a path to recovery," Dearie said. "We hope this verdict will force DSHS to put its house in order so others don't suffer the same horrors as these girls."
During her testimony, the oldest victim, now 19, testified that she was motivated to file this lawsuit because "it wouldn't be fair for any other kids to go through what we went through."
About Dearie Law Group
Raymond J. Dearie is known for his fierce determination to fight and win justice for his clients. Ray is a tough, experienced injury attorney and trial lawyer, with a wide range of clients. He has championed the rights of individuals, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies, winning jury verdicts and multi-million dollar settlements.
Raymond Dearie 206-239-9920
Dearie Law Group, P.S.
Katharine Kemp 919-244-6803
Firmani + Associates Inc.
SOURCE Dearie Law Group