Friday, November 11, 2011

Lawsuit involving foster child, DSS workers settled - SD

by Scott Waltman

A lawsuit alleging that officials should have known they were placing a girl in a potentially unsafe Aberdeen foster home has been settled without a trial.

Terms of the agreement cannot be disclosed, according to court paperwork.

The case was filed by a woman appointed to represent the girl against Northeastern Mental Health, two state Department of Social Services workers, the foster parents and another foster child. Documents concerning the settlement were sealed to protect the victim, according to case paperwork.

The Department of Social Services' Child Protection Services was responsible for care of the girl when Northeast Mental Health placed her with the Steve and Stephanie Schuman family of Aberdeen in December 2007, according to the lawsuit. The girl stayed with the foster family until March 2008 and turned 9 during that time.

A 17-year-old male "with a propensity to sexually act out" — one of the defendants — had previously been placed in the foster home. The lawsuit claims that the older boy sexually abused the girl during the time they lived in the same home. The defendants should have known the boy was a threat to the girl and failed to properly address the issue, according to the lawsuit.

Department of Social Services employees Amy Reyes and Laura Woolverton, who worked on the girl's case, were listed as defendants.

Agreements settle the case with the Schumans, Northeastern Mental Health, Reyes and Woolverton. The other foster child is not mentioned in the settlement.

Previously, a $25,000 proposed settlement from Northeast Mental Health and the Schumans had been rejected.


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