How many disabled & abandoned children would lead better lives if just a fraction of this proposed settlement had been spent providing children properly supported social workers & resources instead of charging multi-million dollar penalties to a government entity.

Like the settlement that was paid to the birth parents of the child lost forever (literally “disappeared”)  in the Nevada foster care system, or the dozens of brutal deaths children have suffered over the years in this nation where inadequate child protection services exist & social workers are regularly blamed when children are brutalized when in fact they are working in conditions that almost ensure that at risk children will pay the price for a counties / states malfeasance.

It would be far less expensive (see the studies & long term costs) and the right thing to do to see that foster & adoptive parents were well funded, well regulated, and early childhood programs set up to insure that every child had a chance to have a meaningful life in America.

Until then, let’s sue the pants off of states and counties that refuse to care for children.

New York Times Dec 29th article on 68 Million Dollar Settlement Proposal

 

 

 

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Full New York Times Article below;

 

Lawyers for 10 disabled children who were fraudulently adopted by a Queens woman more than 15 years ago and subjected to years of abuse have proposed a $68 million settlement in a civil rights lawsuit filed on their clients’ behalf, according to a confidential court filing.s and headlines.

The proposal comes as a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn appears to be trying to mediate a settlement to the suit, filed in 2009, which seeks damages from New York City and three contract adoption agencies that placed the children with the woman, Judith Leekin.

The case has been seen as one of the most disturbing child welfare fraud cases in the city in recent years. Ms. Leekin used four aliases to adopt the children, who had physical or developmental disabilities, including autism and retardation, and later moved them to Florida. The children were caged, restrained with plastic ties and handcuffs, beaten with sticks and hangers, and kept out of school, according to court papers. An 11th child disappeared while in Ms. Leekin’s care and is presumed dead.

The suit asks that the 10 plaintiffs, now mostly in their 20s, be compensated for their years of suffering as well as for the services and treatment they will need for the rest of their lives.

The settlement proposal was cited in a letter from a defense lawyer in the case to the magistrate judge, Marilyn D. Go of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, where the lawsuit was brought.

The letter was filed publicly in October, but was quickly sealed after the lawyer wrote that it “referred to confidential discussions between the parties.” The New York Times obtained the letter while it was publicly available.

Ms. Leekin, 66, was imprisoned after she was convicted of fraud in federal court in Manhattan and of abuse in a state court in Florida. Federal prosecutors have said that as part of her scheme, she collected $1.68 million in subsidies from the city that went to support a lavish lifestyle.

When the 10 children were removed from her care in 2007, none had completed elementary school; only three could read and only at a third-grade level; and about half were declared either “totally incapacitated” or “vulnerable adults,” according to a report by a former Columbia University social work professor retained by the plaintiffs to examine the cases.

The 10 have since lived in Florida in state programs or on their own, and at least one is homeless, according to court filings.

New York City and the three private agencies have denied liability in the case, claiming that Ms. Leekin was a sophisticated serial criminal whose scheme fooled various professionals and, given the capabilities and practices of the time, would not have been foreseen or detected.

The agencies are HeartShare Human Services of New York, SCO Family of Services and the now-closed St. Joseph Services for Children and Families.

The agencies’ lawyer, Robert S. Delmond, did not respond to messages seeking a comment on Thursday. Lawyers for the city and the plaintiffs declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

In the now-sealed letter to Judge Go, Mr. Delmond described the $68 million demand as “a significant sum, which requires much consideration, thought, planning and involvement of corporate officers before they can reach a decision.” The agencies’ insurance carrier was reviewing the matter, he noted, and was “not prepared to make a settlement offer at this time.”

He requested more time to allow for further consultations with the insurer and meetings to discuss “possible settlement offers.”

It is unclear how the city and the private agencies might apportion any payout if a settlement is reached.

Jonathan S. Abady, a lawyer whose firm, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, has handled suits against the city and private agencies in cases involving abused and neglected children, said “there does appear to be a uniform indemnification provision” in the contracts the city has with such agencies.

“But the city has the ultimate legal responsibility for the child,” said Mr. Abady, whose firm is not involved in the Leekin suit.

In August, Theodore Babbitt, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, asked Judge Go to move the case forward because of the “fragile, unstable and precarious” condition of the plaintiffs. “They are desperate for care that cannot be provided through the Florida state system,” he wrote.

He cited three of the male plaintiffs, who ranged in age from 19 to 24: one had been on a round-the-clock suicide watch after multiple attempts to take his own life. Another had fathered children out of wedlock and was homeless. A third had been arrested for domestic violence against his older brother. “He is angry and depressed and bottles it up inside until he violently explodes,” Mr. Babbitt wrote.

The court’s docket sheet shows that Judge Go has regularly held confidential phone and court conferences related to settlement issues, sometimes talking with just one side or the other.

Her efforts appear to date from July, when she said in open court that she was usually “programmed to be hopelessly optimistic about settlement.”

“For some reason,” she added, “I have not pushed the parties much in this case to discuss settlement, but let’s do so now.”

A version of this article appeared in print on December 30, 2011, on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Settlement Proposed in Adoption Abuse.

 

 

 

10 Comments

  1. I believe these people that have abused children like this should be punished to the fullest extent. These children,if they live, will ususally develope serious mental problems or just end up in a horrible life in which the community they live in will have to deal with these abused humans. I can tell you from experience that these adopted children,for financial gain, are not the only abused ones. There are thousands of foster children that are taken in by people for the same reason. These children are not going to complain because they are threatend by their foster parents what will happen to them. These children live in fear. I am sure not all foster parents are not like this because I have heard good stories but I have seen the bad side of foster care myself and due to my position at my job I(by law)could not say anything on a professional level. We will all pay for not speaking up and doing something about this because this is a problem that is all accross the United States and as American Citizens it is our job to stop these horrible evil acts against humanity.

  2. That ‘case’ has been made long ago. We live in a universe however of finite resources and of competing demands. Unfortunately, we have no good and reliable ways, no social CAT scans and MRIs for diagnosis and no antibiotics for treatments. There is no social or political litmus test one is required to pass in order to be a ‘helping professional’ either.

    Too, there are no good, objective and reliable ways to determine if several units of child care, mental health, youth development, meals to the homebound, addiction counseling, the ‘arts’, housing for examples are intrinsically ‘better’ than units of police, fire, environmental remediation, education, medical care, national defense, economic development,, transportation. Can’t. In the end, choices often reflect personal and ideological preferences.

    What we have then are ‘balances’ and the amounts devoted to any particular area reflects both those collective preferences and their political strength as a whole (political science used to be defined as “the allocation of precious resources’..Service funding is inherently and often nastily ‘political’).

  3. There is bound to be non-profits or our churches that could appoint committees to be watch dogs especially for the children and elderly. I refuse to believe this is the best we can do to protect these people. I know what you are saying is true but it is just wrong and somehow we as human beings have got to change this. I personally do not know all the laws and the ins and outs of all the systems but I can tell you that if someone could think of a better way for checks and balances I would volunteer my time to check out these criminals when ever I could and I would advocate for these children & anyone else being abused. I believe it is a job for those of us who have already raised our children and are at retirement age or close to it to take on this job. Most people in this age group don’t care if you like them or not anyway, so that right there is a plus for this age group of people to get involved. We can’t ignore it because that is just the way things are. We have to change the way we do alot of things. This is America and We Never Give Up!!!!!

  4. Hi Michael,
    I am always wondering why we always need to make a wakeup call for the community to protect children around the world!

    Children in all nations are like the rising of the sun that lights up the world. Everyone is born as child, then grow up to be adult who participated in the community in all fields; science, Technology, economy, army…etc, so this is why the community must invest in children, they are the builder of the nations, determinants of civilized or non-civilized nations. My message for everyone in the world put yourself in that invisible children place. Ask yourself, what if you were one of these children who really want to feel secure!!

    I have a suggestion:
    1-regarding making a simple graphical presentation represents the following:
    A-what are basic child needs (Financial, physical, emotional, social, education…? How can everyone be actively participants in protecting child?
    B-Comparison between impact of protecting our children on the community and neglecting the children rights, by having two children: one of them who grow up in healthy environment and other who need help. The audience will be
    a- Educational institutions (schools, universities,…etc): to get all families involved.
    b- Non-governmental communities.

    I think an effort to be executed toward a proactive decision to make a comprehensive change in the community way of thinking, and finding a motivator to let everyone to protect children in the world. It is awake up call to build a deep belief that ‘’Children are the future nation Leaders’’

    I am looking forward to your thoughts.

    Yasmin

  5. God convinced the Israelite in Deuteronomy 7 and Jesus also convinced the disciples and others in Matthew 18 on protecting the children because they are the future of our homes,communities,churches,countries and the World.Protecting the children should not be a matter of choice for us as they are vulnerable and need us to speak for them as we see done by out heavenly Father.

    Orphanage Foundation Ministry Liberia Inc.is vigorously working towards speaking out for protection of the children in Liberia.

  6. I would like to propose that the Eliminate project is an excellent way for individuals to see the need of helping women and children NOW. In many of the 39 countries where maternal and neonatal tetanus still exists, and where the Eliminate project hopes to do just that – Eliminate it – immunizations for tetanus have not always ranked as important. Now we find that the proper immunizations, along with education for clean birthing practices – in other words, preventive care – can help save thousands of lives. So the Eliminate project is raising millions of dollars towards preventive care and should set the bar high for helping children now – many times before they are born or when they are too young to speak for themselves. In short, we must believe in the future and act now to take care of it.

  7. Very touching story with sad ending too because the society will suffer at rem. You are right saying that community should hold the neglected children if for any reason parents are not able to do so. The cost of communal neglect is much higher than taking their care after they are grown up as constant pain.

  8. After working with children and families as a worker and as a Guardian Ad Litem in my county, I went back to school to complete my degree because I was weary of seeing the faces of abused children. I wanted to get to the policy level to affect change in the system.
    We always get there went it is too late. It is like being a firefighter and always arriving when the house is already burned to the ground. The system is not working to meet our children’s needs, we need something different. We cannot have the same people who are the problem as the decision makers to “fix” the system. We will never have a resolution. We seem to live in a society here in the US, where animals receive better care than our young children. We need a system that have the ability to identify at risk families, and put those dollars there; with parenting classes, individuals counseling for parents, as we address the other basic human needs as (food, clothing and shelter).

  9. I believe there should be a movement that includes the entire community watching out for the safety of children, elderly and the handicaped whether it be mentally or in a wheel chair. We all see these things going on around us but everyone has been taught to mind their own business or it is not their job to get involved. HELLO—-this is everyone’s business to protect and help those who cannot help themselves. Like Yasmin said, “would you like being treated like this yourself?”. This coruption is everywhere so don’t rely on the businesses that it is their job to take care of people. I personally have found that at least 65% of the so called workers neglect the people they are supposed to help, steal from them, do a lousy job cleaning for them and if the folks complain, they are punished. If you have a loved one being cared for and you are not surprise checking than you are not doing your job as a human being.
    This also applies to those that go to the hospital for surgery etc…….neglect and abuse is there too unless someone is checking; letting the workers know you are paying attention by asking questions even about the medicine being given. Children’s day care centers have tons of abuse also. It is a crime that you have to spot check but you really do have to. I know there is enough of us that care to be able to keep others informed for all of man-kind. Maybe one day it will be us laying there being abused by the children we turned the other way when they were being taught that abuse is how it is and is ok…..God help us if we don’t speak out.

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