Campaign Coverage 2020

Lawsuit: W.Va. department put child in sexually abusive home



CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A woman says in a lawsuit that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resource knowingly placed her in an abusive and unsafe home where her father impregnated her when she was 11 years old.

The woman, who is now 21, says in her lawsuit that the agency was negligent and violated state laws that required Child Protective Services workers to remove children from dangerous situations, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. The suit, filed Monday in Kanawha County, identifies her only as Jane Doe to protect her identity.

The plaintiff was in foster care when the state ordered her to be placed with her father in 2010.

According to the lawsuit, the agency knew the father had a criminal history of abuse but still placed her in the home.

By 2011, the agency knew about the pregnancy through the plaintiff and the plaintiff's therapist and knew her stepmother took her to get an abortion in “an effort to destroy criminal evidence against the father," but didn't permanently remove her from the home, the lawsuit says.

The plaintiff's father, who also isn't named in the lawsuit, was arrested on incest and other charges in 2014. He accepted a plea deal in 2017 and was sentenced to five years' probation. He violated his probation terms and has been incarcerated since 2018.

Allison Adler, director of communications for the DHHR, said the agency “is evaluating the claims and will be conducting an internal investigation.”

The paper reported that the lawsuit comes on the heels of a legislative audit that revealed CPS workers employed by the DHHR failed in 2018 to investigate half of the reports of child abuse in a timely manner, leaving children in danger.

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