The Associated Press
Published: August 4, 2009
Previous: Ex-foster child sues DCF
Florida will pay $4 million to two children who had been starved and abused by a Hernando County couple who had taken them in as foster children.
The Department of Children and Families has agreed to pay $700,000 to John Joseph Edwards Jr. and $3.275 million to his sister. Their foster parents, Lori and Arthur “Tommy” Allain, in 2006 were sentenced to 25 years in prison for child abuse and neglect.
DCF Secretary George Sheldon called the case horrific and said the state had failed to remove the children from the home. The money will be placed in a trust fund for Edwards, 19, and his 15-year-old sister.
Because the case settles a federal lawsuit, it did not need legislative claims approval.
Father Follows Son In Suing DCF
By KYLE MARTIN
Published: November 26, 2008
BROOKSVILLE – John Joseph Edwards is using a 2007 appeals court decision as the basis for a lawsuit that claims the Department of Children and Families violated his civil rights.
If the name sounds familiar, here’s why: His son, John Edwards Jr., is also suing DCF, its private arm, Kids Central Inc., and the same caseworker, Cathy Kelly, as his father.
Edwards Jr.’s claim stems from the years he and his half-sister were allegedly abused and starved by their foster parents, Arthur and Lori Allain. The Allains are one year into a quarter-century prison sentence for aggravated child abuse.
Edwards Jr. wants a nine-figure sum in compensation from the state for allegedly allowing the abuse – which his lawyer likens to a Nazi concentration camp – to go unchecked.
A message left for both the Edwards’ attorney in Sebring, Gary Gossett, was not returned Tuesday.
The father’s case, filed Nov. 14, is related, but has completely different grounds.
The source of contention stems from 2002, when Edwards’ parental rights to his son were terminated. Several years later, Edwards read in the newspaper that his son had been allegedly abused by his foster parents.
“Concerned for the welfare” of his child, Edwards filed a court motion claiming that his son was “wrongfully restrained” by DCF, according to an appeal.
He challenged DCF in child custody court, claiming that the agency did not do a thorough job trying to locate him before terminating his rights. DCF argued that they publicized a notification through the newspaper, along with searching driver’s license records and the phone book.
The DCF employee assigned to the case added that Edwards is a common name and that any further search would be “a waste of my time,” according to court records.
Judge Richard Tombrink disagreed, calling DCF’s attempt “woefully lacking” in his written opinion. He adds: “Due process of law should never be disregarded in favor of expediency.”
He continued: “Throwing up one’s hand due to a common name and a lack of detail when the outcome involves the termination of parental rights … strains the conscience.”
The appeals court concluded that parental rights are protected under the Constitution and should not be terminated in a “perfunctory fashion.” However, because its review is based on whether there was “abuse of discretion,” they found no error with DCF.
DCF Spokeswoman Elizabeth Arenas said in an e-mail Tuesday that the department “does recognize that this was a terrible situation.” She added that DCF has learned from the case and that measures have been taken to ensure it does not happen again.
Reporter Kyle Martin can be reached at 352-544-5271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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• Hometown Happenings 0110TOPICS IN THIS ARTICLEnazi concentration camp • child custody court • joseph edwards • cathy kelly • private arm • due process of law • john edwards • court motion • figure sum • foster parents • kids central • department of children and families • waste of my time • caseworker • gossett • likens • parental rights • expediency • prison sentence • quarter century Loading Comments…