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News / Clark County News

Girl, 10, alleges abuse in foster care, sues DSHS

Suit says she was victim of child who was known offender

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Local News Editor
Published: January 28, 2016, 7:01pm

A 10-year-old girl has filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Social & Health Services for placing her in a foster home where she allegedly was sexually abused by another foster child.

The Clark County girl filed the complaint Monday. It alleges that DSHS employees knew or should have known that one of the older foster children in the home had a history of molesting girls.

According to the suit, the girl was placed in a foster home in May 2011, where there were several other foster children. Between June 1, 2011, and July 21, 2011, one of the other foster children repeatedly molested and sexually abused the girl, the lawsuit says.

DSHS failed to adequately investigate the home where it placed the girl or the other residents of that home, the complaint says. The agency’s lack of an adequate investigation, the suit alleges, also resulted in the girl not being removed from the foster home in a timely manner.

The lawsuit seeks damages for medical treatment, medication and other expenses, both in the past and future, in an amount to be determined at trial. It also seeks damages for physical, mental and emotional disturbance and behavior disorders resulting from the abuse.

The girl is being represented by Vancouver attorney Stephen Leatham. Efforts to reach Leatham on Thursday were unsuccessful.

Norah West, a DSHS spokeswoman, said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.