Woman sues state, alleging emotional, sexual abuse in Vancouver foster home

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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An 18-year-old Vancouver woman has filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Social and Health Services, alleging she was emotionally and sexually abused while in foster care as a young child.

The suit, filed Tuesday in Clark County Superior Court, claims that DSHS was negligent “in the licensing and placement of the plaintiff into foster care, the supervision of the plaintiff’s foster care family … and their investigation into complaints of abuse.”

Per state law, the lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount to cover damages and attorney costs to be determined at trial.

The woman, who is not identified in court paperwork, was under foster care in Vancouver from June 1999 to September 2000, the lawsuit states. The abuse reportedly started when she was 6, according to a press release from the plaintiff’s Seattle attorney, James Rogers.

The woman claims she was emotionally and sexually abused by the father of one of the foster care providers, and sexually abused by the couple’s son, a minor child at the time, according to the lawsuit.

The father of the foster care provider, who is now deceased, had previously been convicted of harassment in Marion County, Ore., according to Rogers. It was not immediately clear if that case is connected to the abuse alleged in the lawsuit. Neither the couple’s son, nor the foster care providers themselves, were prosecuted, according to a spokeswoman for Rogers’ office.

A spokesman for DSHS said that he hadn’t seen the lawsuit, so he could not comment.

When asked why the lawsuit was being filed so long after the allegation, Rogers said that, in general terms, memories or pain from abuse don’t surface until a person’s adult years.

“Foster care should be a safe place for children, but this home was a preventable nightmare,” Rogers said in a statement.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.