Wednesday, August 24, 2011

4 sue state over abusive Tacoma foster home

Four former foster children sue the state Department of Social and Health Services, saying their foster parents beat, drugged and sexually abused them.

By Christine Clarridge

Seattle Times staff reporter

The state Department of Social and Health Services has been sued by four former foster children who say they were beaten and sexually abused in a Tacoma foster home that never should have been licensed, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The victims were "sexually, physically and psychologically terrorized for the pleasure and profit of their foster-care providers."

"It was not a home," said Jeremy Johnston, an attorney for plaintiffs, who are now adults and living in Tacoma. "It was a house of horrors."

Thomas Shapley, a spokesman for the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), declined to comment on the suit, which was filed in Pierce County Superior Court.

The lawsuit alleges that the former foster parents, Jose and Juanita Miranda, were both on welfare and collecting disability payments when the state licensed them to operate a foster-care home between 1997 and 2003.

Jose Miranda died behind bars in 2009 after he had been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for raping and molesting foster children. His wife died of a drug overdose in Tacoma's McKinley Park in 2006, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that the children were routinely drugged with sleeping pills and forced to engage in sexual acts with Jose Miranda, and the other foster children, in a padlocked room in the basement dedicated to that purpose

The suit also alleges that the Mirandas forced the children to wear diapers and pretend to have bed-wetting issues to increase their foster-care benefits, to eat expired food and consume their own vomit when they were sick.

The foster children were beaten with broomsticks, frying pans and nail-studded sticks, the suit alleges, and forced to clean their foster father after he had used the bathroom. One of the children was forced to wear a dog leash and walk around naked on her hands and knees, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit charges that DSHS ignored years of complaints from social workers, guardians, teachers, neighbors, relatives, coaches, family friends, parents of the foster children and the children themselves.

According to the lawsuit, DSHS approved Juanita Miranda as a foster parent despite a long history of drug use and criminal violations. Her own two biological children were taken from her by Child Protective Services in California because of drug use and neglect, and she was arrested in that state more than 50 times, the suit alleges.

The suit claims that Juanita Miranda was also under the supervision of Washington's Department of Corrections when she was granted her foster-care license and that DSHS failed to revoke her license even after later receiving reports about her criminal history.

She was never charged with a crime in connection with the abuse, the lawsuit claims.

According to the lawsuit, the abuse began when the children were as young as 5 and continued through their teens.

Tacoma police began an investigation in 2005 after Jose Miranda confessed his crimes to a nurse while he was hospitalized, according to the suit.

Court documents indicate that Jose Miranda was charged in 2007 with three counts of first-degree child rape, two counts of first-degree child molestation and two counts of third-degree assault of a child.

The lawsuit claims Jose and Juanita Miranda should never have been licensed and that their personal histories and their physical and financial circumstances should have made them ineligible to become foster parents.

"There were multiple opportunities for the state to save these children from this nightmare," said Johnston, the attorney for the four former foster children. "But they failed to act."

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.


1 comment:

  1. Why is this still allowed to go on? When is someone going to do somthing about it? We are all guilty if we dont stop it from continueing.