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Will $5 Million Verdict in Foster Child-On-Child Sexual Abuse Case Help Florida DCF, Community-Based Providers Learn Their Lesson?

October 28th, 2013   No Comments   Abuse, Court Cases, Damage Claims

When a six-member jury decided that the sexual assault of one child by a foster child who was known to be a juvenile sex offender by the Florida Department of Children and Families and its community-based care providers could have been avoided and should have consequences, they were reiterating what child advocates have said all along. Their $5 million verdict against Florida DCF only drove home the point even more forcefully.

Was history repeating itself in the Palm Beach County courtroom, where testimony of the sexual abuse and humiliation suffered by the victim brought tears to the plaintiff’s attorney and jurors alike?

DCF and community-based care providers failed to warn the foster family of the 10-year-old foster child’s own history of violent sexual abuse. Then, after the abuse occurred, they tried to deflect blame and say the foster parents should have known. Child advocate attorney Howard Talenfeld was co-counsel on the case. Read the newspaper account here.

As we’ve asked before, when will the Department of Children and Families learn from the lessons of the past? When will they demand more from their community-based care providers and expect the highest levels of safety and protection for the kids and families they serve?

More importantly, when things go wrong, when will they stop deflecting blame and take responsibility for a system that puts profits and cost-cutting above the needs and protection of those in its care?

This time, it was a $5 million lesson – and a man, now 20, who faces a lifetime of psychological counseling. One would hope there won’t be a “next time,” but history has a way of repeating itself.

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