Two nonprofit organizations responsible for oversight of the state’s foster care system are accused of negligence in recently-filed Florida sexual abuse lawsuits.
According to the Orlando Sun Sentinel, two school-aged girls alleged they were placed into the home of a man who repeatedly molested them and video recorded them in their bedrooms. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges related to those acts.
Like many Florida sexual abuse lawsuits filed in civil court, this claim is not directly against the perpetrator. Instead, it is filed against organizations purported to have a duty to use reasonable care in protecting the plaintiffs and prevent them from becoming victims in the first place.
As our Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers can explain, children in foster care – and girls especially – are known to be uniquely vulnerable to sexual exploitation. According to the organization Helping Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Assault, an investigation of 155 teen girls in foster care found that 81 percent experienced sexual abuse and nearly 70 percent were sexually abused by more than one person. This is far from the only study that has reached such a conclusion. Organizations that work with vulnerable children must be hypervigilant when entrusting their care to third parties.
Foster care case managers are known to carry sizable caseloads, but that doesn’t excuse these agencies when numerous red flags of abuse or neglect are missed or glossed over.
According to the lawsuit, the man who acted as their foster dad molested the girls, ages 6 and 9, for the several months they were in his care. They allege the non-profit organizations, which are contracted by the State of Florida to oversee placement of foster children, failed to follow up or oversee their well-being as they should have. Furthermore, plaintiffs say the girls should never have been placed in the home, given that the foster father allegedly:
- Was estranged from his wife, who did not live in the home he shared with his teen son.
- Insisted on only girls being placed in his home.
- Thwarted numerous home visits by caseworkers and refused to allow caseworkers to interview the girls privately.
This is the second such lawsuit against the same organizations. In the other case, three foster children allege they were sexually abused by the brother of one of the foster parents, who was living in the home. It’s not clear whether the alleged perpetrator was ever arrested or charged. It’s also not clear whether the brother had passed a background check or even if the foster care oversight non-profits even knew he was living there. Nonetheless, plaintiffs say the foster care agencies were negligent in placing the kids – all under 10 – in a home where they suffered sexual abuse. One suffered disfiguring injuries to the face and was not given prompt medical treatment.
It’s worth noting that most all Florida sexual abuse lawsuits based on negligence now must be filed in 2 years instead of 4 years. The shorter statute of limitations on all negligence lawsuits was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in March.
Contact the South Florida sexual abuse case attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
Negligence by nonprofits led to sexual abuse of foster kids, lawsuit says, Oct. 20, 2023, Orlando Sentinel
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Types of Damages in Florida Sexual Assault Lawsuit Settlement, Oct. 2, 2023, South Florida Sexual Abuse Lawyer Blog