Category: lawsuits

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, children, cps, custody, death, law, lawsuits, legal, texas
Lawsuit Accusing Texas of “Poorly Supervising Foster Children” Moves Forward

“Children are being harmed. And
the state knows it and is basically
disregarding the harm to children”

Julie Wilson
Infowars.com
August 29, 2013

A class-action lawsuit filed in 2011
on behalf of nine Texas children
has been given the go ahead by a
federal judge on Thursday. The
lawsuit accuses Texas of “poorly
supervising foster children,”
reported AP.

The New York-based Children’s
Rights group is behind the push for
justice for more than 12,000 abused
and neglected Texas children that
were permanently removed from
their natural homes.

Executive Director Marcia Robinson Lowry
said the child rights group has sued
more than 15 states for “mistreatment of foster children” and lost just two of those cases.

“Children are being harmed. And
the state knows it and is basically
disregarding the harm to children,”
she said.

Last month Infowars reported on
two-year old Alexandria Hill who
was killed while under the care of
Texas Child Protective Services
(CPS).

Alexandria was taken from
her home because her parents
allegedly smoked pot after their
daughter went to sleep. Foster mom
Sherri Small is facing capital
murder charges for brutally
slamming Alexandria’s head,
causing her to die from blunt force
trauma.

Texas mentor, the agency
responsible for placing Alexandria
with foster mom Small, is the third
largest foster care contractor in the
state.

State records show that Texas
Mentor’s Arlington office was placed
on a six-month evaluation after
they were cited for 114 violations in
56 foster homes over a two year
span, reported the Dallas News.

State funding for CPS has been
increased twice over the past eight
years, but the agency continues to
fail majorly, endangering thousands
of children.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge
Janis Graham Jack of Corpus Christi
said Children’s Rights has provided
substantial “preliminary evidence”
proving CPS caseworkers to be
“overworked.”

The judge also noted a “high turnover among CPS conservatorship workers,” whom are responsible for protecting the
young foster children.

“A caseworker that is so overburdened that she cannot visit the children she is responsible for…cannot fulfill this function,” wrote Judge Jack.

The ruling is based on a three-day
hearing in January and is expected
to proceed hopefully exposing the
corruption and failures inside the
CPS system.

This article was posted: Thursday,
August 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm

accountability, Collin County, Texas, corruption, crime, lawsuits, RICO, system failure children
RICO Lawsuit Against County & District Clerks Association of Texas

FOTP Editor Files RICO Lawsuit Against County & District Clerks Association of Texas

federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) lawsuit in Sherman last week. Fussell is our editor for the six Collin County newspapers FOTP Group has planned. This lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of the federal district in Texas, includes several plaintiffs — including Fussell’s sister, who lives in Midlothian — who allege the County & District Clerks Association of Texas of committing fraud, racketeering, money laundering and a mountain-full of other crimes. The petition (see documents below) is intense reading material. It’s been redacted of plaintiffs names (seven in all) for publication, but it is public record in the court file system.
 Some excerpts:

 (emphasis added)

“…create a criminal enterprise under the misrepresentation of a Government Office, for the express intent to reclassify Plaintiffs as offenders, or abusers to meet a condition precedent for CDCAT to fraudulently qualify Plaintiffs’ family and children for CDCAT Multiple Employer Welfare Benefit Plan and Trust.”

“…entered into various Rule 11 agreements absent Plaintiffs’ consent, discussion, or agreement.  Plaintiffs are still unable to obtain a record or accounting of such Rule 11 agreements.  Said actions constitute a serious Breach of Fiduciary Duty, and Plaintiffs request this court to issue relief as allowed by law.”

“20.       Various District County Courts issued a “General Order, which is described as a standing order to protect property and children pending litigation of a divorce or child custody order. .. Included in the standing order is the following:

“No party to this lawsuit requested this order.  Rather, this order is a   standing order of the Collin County District Courts that applies in every divorce suit and every suit affecting the parent-child relationship filed in  Collin County.  The District Courts of Collin County have adopted this order because the parties and their children should be protected and their  property preserved with the lawsuit is pending before the court.”

21.       Defendants created the standing order which has the same effect as a Protective Order under Texas Family Code Section 85. The rules of procedure are significantly different for processing cases in which the parties are parties to a Protective Order verses processing a court case when the parties are free from such.

Readers and researchers will see one phrase used repeatedly, and the context of this is crucial to understanding  the entire case. Lisa Fussell is not just any editor of mine. Her father is the architect of an investment vehicle Collin County’s government implemented for themselves: a Multiple Employer Benefit Plan

“Said order, reduced to writing, will also include multiple clauses and contractual terms as necessary for Defendants to process the Divorce Decree as a contract which purports the parties agree to participate in Defendants’ Multiple Employer Benefit Plan. “

This is pretty powerful verbage too, as this gets to how the judiciary in Collin County (and probably all over the country) is basically one gigantic corporation:

Certain Plaintiffs represented themselves through the duration of their cases.  A significant amount of Defendants success depends on misrepresentation by association attorneys.  Absent this advantage, Defendants resort to wholly falsifying court documents or tampering with government documents.  Plaintiff, [redacted by publisher], had previously divorced in Collin and Grayson Counties.

Through the course of [redacted by publisher]’s present involvement with Defendants, CDCAT completely rewrote Plaintiffs previous Divorce Decrees, which were entered by the presiding judge after her ex-husband signed a 2002 waiver under the waiver provision.

Defendants fraudulently rewrote the orders as Agreed Orders moreover adding provisions into the order that enrolled [redacted by publisher]’s children so as to receive benefits from the Multiple Employer Benefit Plan.  Defendants not only added and rewrote the previous orders, but moreover forged [redacted by publisher]’s signatures, backdated clerk stamps and substituted Official Notary Statements.

So, what happens when one goes up against the “Corporation?”

“The Honorable Judge John Roach Jr. forewarned her of his intended retaliation a month before the DA filed the charges.”

“[Another plaintiff] was falsely imprisoned on a court order that was never set for hearing.”

“[Another] Plaintiff was indicted on a court order that was vaguely rendered that does not exist.”

A list of the generalities that are being alleged that the County & District Clerks Association of Texas committed:

  1. Abuse of Process
  2. Statutory Fraud
  3. Fraud of Nondisclosure
  4. Bad faith
  5. Defamation
  6. Malicious Prosecution
  7. Mail obstruction and unlawful mail opening
  8. Negligent Misrepresentation, and
  9. Conspiracy

 The plaintiffs filed suit against the County & District Clerks Association of Texas (CDCAT), which is “under the authority of the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers (IACREAOT),” specifically alleging the following:

[Emphasis by The Ellis County Observer publisher]

–> Plaintiffs recently discovered check dispersing of substantial sums of money from the court Registry of certain court cases in which Plaintiffs’ children are designated in the Odyssey System as “Secured Parties”

–> Defendants further retaliated against Plaintiffs who unsuccessfully inquired about the registry checks utilizing various forms of intimidation which included abuse of power.  Plaintiff, contacted the presiding officer of the commissioner’s court, Keith Self, about the Registry disbursements in collin county that where discovered in the family law case. (See exhibit B).

Within five days, said Plaintiff was brought before the court in a disposition for the family law case, however,  the disposition was a unexplainable thrust on plaintiff mere days after his inquiry to Judge Self.  The family law councilor questioning him focused the “deposition”  to the subject of the inquiry to Commissioner Self.  A few examples are “have you been harmed in some way because of any money transferred in the Registry”, and “what do you think the checks you saw written in the Register mean to you?”

 Documents:
[Word Document | Click Here to Read, Download or Print | Federal Lawsuit vs. CDCAT]

[PDF | Click Here to Read, Download or Print | CDCAT Bylaws]

 See Also: Freedom of the Press Group Collin County https://www.facebook.com/pages/Freedom-of-the-Press-Group-Collin-County/187102218005916

See Also: FOTP Group Editor Re-Indicted http://www.elliscountyobserver.com/2011/06/09/1-of-my-editors-has-been-re-indicted-in-collin-county/

See Also: Brooke Muncie-Weltzer Bogus Kidnapping Arrest; McKinney Cops Cover-Up
http://www.elliscountyobserver.com/2011/05/09/collin-county-brooke-muncie-weltzer-didnt-kidnap-her-son/

See Also: ARC of Texas Process in Texas Courts System:
http://www.elliscountyobserver.com/2011/05/27/chart-arc-process-in-texas-court-system-does-ellis-county-work-this-way-too/

ARC Chart Below:

Program

1. Academy of Special Needs Planners

2. ARC (Non-Profit Corporation)

3. Municipal District

4. Court System

Players

1. Title IV-D (Attorney General)

2. DFPS

3. Judges

4. Bank of America and JP Morgan Bank

5. Psychologists / Home Study Experts

6. Special Needs Attorneys

7. Abusive Parent

8. Our Children

9. Protective Parent

10. Law Enforcement

 Process

1. The Court orders Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)

2. The Special Needs Attorney determines the wealth of the family

3.  One of the parent becomes the target of the courts, DFPS, and law enforcement

4. To obtain evidence the Court orders a psychological exam and a home study

5. The Court utilizes the evidence to build an adverse case against one parent

6. The build a stronger case DFPS testifies in Court about the TI’s drugs, abuse, mental instability

7. Judge removes conservatorship rights

8. Special Needs Attorney assumes temporary guardianship using the temporary guardianship form

9. Working in cooperation with DFPS and the ARC program – the children are labelled with special needs

10. A trust fund is established by the Special Needs Attorney vis-a-via the ARC

11. Bank of America and JP Morgan Bank then invests the money or borrow against assets

12. The trust fund is overseen by the municpal districts and the Title IV-D Office

Outcome $$

1. Pooled Trusts

2. Liens

2. Domestic and international 501C corporations

3. Retirement Funds

awareness, child, child adoption, child custody, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, custody, domestic violence, families, kids, law, lawsuits, legal, legislation
Texas harms foster children with inattention, shoddy system, lawsuit says
By ROBERT T. GARRETT
Source: Dallas Morning News Austin Bureau
rtgarrett@dallasnews.com

Published 29 March 2011 10:38 AM

AUSTIN — Texas violates the rights of abused and neglected children by running a shoddy foster care system, the New York-based group Children’s Rights says in a class-action federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Too many youths are isolated and linger for years in care, the suit says. The state countered that it is working on fixes and that most foster children are safe.

In the suit, filed in federal court in Corpus Christi, the group zeroes in on about 12,000 youths who’ve been removed from their birth homes by Child Protective Services and kept in the state’s care for more than a year, saying the children suffer after “permanency” deadlines of 12 to 18 months have passed.

Too often, CPS is unable to reunite the child with family or find a lasting home, such as with a relative or adoptive parents, and drops the ball because children from then on aren’t required to have their own lawyer and another adult advocating for them, the suit says.

“Once children cross the line into permanent foster care, the state essentially gives up on their prospects for ever leaving state custody with permanent families of their own,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights.

Anne Heiligenstein, commissioner of CPS’ parent agency, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said the lawsuit threatens to do more harm than good.

“We’re on the right path and will continue to do everything we can to protect Texas children, but I worry that a lawsuit like this will take critical time and resources away from the very children it presumes to help,” she said in a written statement.

Children’s Rights asks the court to order the state to lower caseloads for CPS workers, recruit more foster homes and do a better job of supervising private foster-care providers.

Lowry said some of those extra costs could be offset by eliminating the state’s wasteful spending on institutional care.

“It costs less to run a better system where children get permanence and get out of foster care,” she said.

The department has warned state leaders for months that the suit might be filed. A memo sent to legislative leaders in September emphasized large amounts of attorneys’ fees that have been awarded to Children’s Rights in similar lawsuits in other states.

The memo also touted CPS overhaul legislation passed in 2005 and a foster-care overhaul passed two years later for bumping up staffing and making sizable reductions in CPS workers’ caseloads.

The suit highlights the plight of nine unnamed children that the group wants the court to accept as a representation of the class of about 12,000 youngsters in Texas’ mostly privatized system of long-term foster care who it alleges have been mistreated.

One of them is “A.M.,” a 13-year-old from Canton who with two half sisters was removed from her home after witnessing fights between her mother and her mother’s boyfriends. The department “has separated her from her sisters, shuffled her from one placement to another, placed her in inappropriate foster homes and left her for years in an institution,” the suit says.

It says Texas frequently fails to keep children in the “least restrictive setting” and is too quick to move them into institutions and give them psychotropic medications.

David Richart, executive director of the National Institute on Children, Youth and Families, which tracks lawsuits in child welfare and juvenile justice systems, says Lowry picks her targets carefully and almost never loses a case.

“The writing’s on the wall here,” Richart said, and Texas leaders should “spend time improving their CPS system instead of being in a reflexively defensive mode.”

awareness, child, child adoption, child custody, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, custody, domestic violence, families, kids, law, lawsuits, legal, legislation
Texas harms foster children with inattention, shoddy system, lawsuit says
By ROBERT T. GARRETT
Source: Dallas Morning News Austin Bureau
rtgarrett@dallasnews.com

Published 29 March 2011 10:38 AM

AUSTIN — Texas violates the rights of abused and neglected children by running a shoddy foster care system, the New York-based group Children’s Rights says in a class-action federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Too many youths are isolated and linger for years in care, the suit says. The state countered that it is working on fixes and that most foster children are safe.

In the suit, filed in federal court in Corpus Christi, the group zeroes in on about 12,000 youths who’ve been removed from their birth homes by Child Protective Services and kept in the state’s care for more than a year, saying the children suffer after “permanency” deadlines of 12 to 18 months have passed.

Too often, CPS is unable to reunite the child with family or find a lasting home, such as with a relative or adoptive parents, and drops the ball because children from then on aren’t required to have their own lawyer and another adult advocating for them, the suit says.

“Once children cross the line into permanent foster care, the state essentially gives up on their prospects for ever leaving state custody with permanent families of their own,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights.

Anne Heiligenstein, commissioner of CPS’ parent agency, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said the lawsuit threatens to do more harm than good.

“We’re on the right path and will continue to do everything we can to protect Texas children, but I worry that a lawsuit like this will take critical time and resources away from the very children it presumes to help,” she said in a written statement.

Children’s Rights asks the court to order the state to lower caseloads for CPS workers, recruit more foster homes and do a better job of supervising private foster-care providers.

Lowry said some of those extra costs could be offset by eliminating the state’s wasteful spending on institutional care.

“It costs less to run a better system where children get permanence and get out of foster care,” she said.

The department has warned state leaders for months that the suit might be filed. A memo sent to legislative leaders in September emphasized large amounts of attorneys’ fees that have been awarded to Children’s Rights in similar lawsuits in other states.

The memo also touted CPS overhaul legislation passed in 2005 and a foster-care overhaul passed two years later for bumping up staffing and making sizable reductions in CPS workers’ caseloads.

The suit highlights the plight of nine unnamed children that the group wants the court to accept as a representation of the class of about 12,000 youngsters in Texas’ mostly privatized system of long-term foster care who it alleges have been mistreated.

One of them is “A.M.,” a 13-year-old from Canton who with two half sisters was removed from her home after witnessing fights between her mother and her mother’s boyfriends. The department “has separated her from her sisters, shuffled her from one placement to another, placed her in inappropriate foster homes and left her for years in an institution,” the suit says.

It says Texas frequently fails to keep children in the “least restrictive setting” and is too quick to move them into institutions and give them psychotropic medications.

David Richart, executive director of the National Institute on Children, Youth and Families, which tracks lawsuits in child welfare and juvenile justice systems, says Lowry picks her targets carefully and almost never loses a case.

“The writing’s on the wall here,” Richart said, and Texas leaders should “spend time improving their CPS system instead of being in a reflexively defensive mode.”

child, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, divorce, domestic violence, families, family, fear, General, kids, law, lawsuits, legal, murder
Help! I fell in love with the boogeyman!

(c) Forever May, 2009

The boogeyman.

Everybody knows the boogeyman isn’t real. Right?

Well, to some, the boogeyman is very real and he is the one you love.  How does someone fall in love with the boogeyman?  What makes the boogeyman become what or who he is? A monster – an abuser…

Abuse at its worst is when the one person you look to as your life partner hurts you.  That’s the person you should trust, confide in, turn to, and be there for…. til death do us part does not mean a death because of the very relationship the wedding vows refer to.  The pain is ten-fold, the emotions run especially high, the betrayal, and bitterness is raw, and in the end – the wounds & scars run deep. Very deep.

I have been an advocate against domestic abuse for years. I know the cycle of abuse. I know the pain. I know the scars. I lost my son to domestic abuse.  So, I would know better than to involve myself into another abusive relationship. I would never mean to get in a relationship with a man who would hit me or take my freedom and will away from me. I know the signs, the symptoms, the who gamet.

If you have noticed my blog has been slow posting over the last year or so, this is the reason.  I somehow managed to get myself into a relationship, again, with an abuser. Its taken me a year and 1/2 and several dozen attempts to get away.  I did, finally, get out.

*I* fell into the cycle again knowing better…. I know SO WELL what to look for, what to avoid, and what to do – I’ve been through this before. I couldn’t believe where I found myself again.  I asked “why did this happen” each time I would be swallowing my tears, hiding in my dark room, or  sneaking past his sleeping quieted body to the fridge to grab a piece of bread and scurry away to eat it without waking him or his rage…How did *I* get trapped by another monster?

He was the boogeyman, you see, wearing a disguise.  He offered me a helping hand when I needed it badly, and he was so beautifully charming.  He had a good paying job, a nice house, car, he worked hard, he was kind, sensitive, good looking, a good listener, we had fun times together.  We had so much in common on our views, opinions, passions, and goals. It was perfect…too perfect.  He even got me a puppy.

Sure, I thought “this is too good to be true” and was waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I was expecting another shoe to drop.

I didn’t expect it to be a boot …( a steel-toed boot).

I had plenty of space, as his job took him out of town for weeks at a time too. While he was away, I would have plenty of time to myself, to do my thing.  It was my time to recharge my inner batteries so-to-speak.

The weekends when he was home we’d have a great time together.  Then I told him I wanted to get a job.  Instantly, he changed into the boogeyman.  He quit going to work, became extremely possessive, and if I had a job interview, he would subversively sabotage any chance I had of getting it.  A job meant indepedence.  A job meant I would leave.  He lost his job then his car, and eventually his house.  He moved us into an old house that had once been scheduled for demolition and every other week I was running away from home, but with my dog by my side, it was difficult to find anywhere to go for any period of time.  I went to the shelter. I wanted to work, but the inconsistency of my life couldn’t allow me to keep a job.  I went back after I would run out of options, just to leave again within the next few weeks.

For the first year and 1/2, no matter how abusive it got, he hadn’t “hit” me.  The abuse was mental, verbal, emotional, psychological, financial.  Intimidation tactics, threats, but he always promised he’d never hit me.  I lost all my friends, one by one, who got tired of the “drama” or who were afraid of him coming over there.

Then he hit me for the first time.  It was an “accident” he said, a “freak accident.” Right.

I was so afraid and in shock I stood frozen in the corner he’d backed me into and then played possom all night until I had the chance to run. I went into a shelter, but was kicked out of the shelter for eating yogurt after 9pm. I was starving – food had been a special commodity with him. 

Back I went with the utmost of apprehension… the second time he hit me, a week later, he didn’t just hit me, it was an all out brawl, and my dog bit him… the puppy he’d gotten me… protecting me.  He threatened her.  I left that day and never went back.  I had the good fortune of some of his friends who were nearby, picked my dog and I up from the corner gas station, and had a feeling the abuse had been going on, but weren’t sure.  He kept me too isolated to know. 

Now they knew, and his secret was out.  Finally, I was out too.

He still tries, and thinks I’m his, and will be home. I received roses yesterday.  I won’t budge.  My things are still at his house, in my bedroom there that has notes he painted for me all over the walls and ceiling.  His obsession with me hasn’t diminished, & he can’t control me anymore.  So far he’s had the desire to save face in front of his friends enough to leave me be.  So far.

What happened to him that made him this way?  If you ask him he’ll say it was all my fault, an accident, or a result of my “craziness”.  He’ll never admit he’s a monster.  He doesn’t seem that way at first of course.  He has a good side, a good heart, a generous nature, but the flip side is a controlling abusive man.

Whats going on in his mind?  Why is he abusive?  Thats why this topic is particularly involving my focus right now.  Why did I fall into it again, even knowing so well what to avoid and look for.

It goes to show one can never have too much knowledge. Thank goodness I’m away and safe.  I thought he was going to kill me one day. He might have. I am sad for the way things turned out, but knew it was the only choice, for me to leave. 

I want to reunite with my son one day, and I want to have a close relationship with my daughter and granddaughter, and my son too, which I could never have with an abuser around me.  He didn’t see himself as an abuser, so he didn’t see things the way I did.  He has the mind of an abuser, fits exactly the profile in the article to follow.  So exact in fact, its spooky, like it was written about him.

There’s some very useful information about domestic violence and abusers in the following articles, how abusers’ minds work how their loved ones can deal with them, and where to find help.

Thank you for your patience and loyalty over the past year while I was dealing with this.  As for me, I’m okay, a little traumatized again, with my PTSD acting up. Hypervigilence at its best… or worst, I guess.  

I’m making new friends, finding support of wonderful people around me, and enjoying the peace. I’m starting to feel happy again, and hope again.

For anyone out there involved in an abusive relationship, take it from me, its not your fault, stay strong, and there is a light out there somewhere – keep trying to find it.  I know its hard and frustrating and often times hopeless.

You can make it, and you don’t deserve to stay.  Its hard getting out. I know.  Have faith in yourself and keep trying to find a way out.

I think I’ll stay single for a while though.

Thanks again for your support!

 _________________________________

For More Information read:  Exploring the Mind of An Abuser

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, family, foster care, health, lawsuits, legal
Foster care abuse alleged


Foster care abuse alleged

Two brothers claim in a lawsuit that the state failed to stop their sexual and physical abuse.

By LEONORA LaPETER
Published October 13, 2004


PINELLAS PARK – The two brothers grew up in separate foster homes, but both say they were abused again and again – physically and sexually – while in foster care in Hillsborough County.One brother said he was sodomized in three different homes. The other claimed he was also raped and forced to sit in his urine for hours or kept outside without food or water.

Both brothers, Jesus de la Cruz and Sue F. Flores, claim in a lawsuit against the state Department of Children and Families filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court Tuesday that they told caseworkers about the abuse. But either nothing was done or they were moved to another bad situation year after year, the suit says.

Jesus de la Cruz, now 24 and out of foster care for six years, stood in his lawyer’s conference room Tuesday and held up a poster board picture of himself as a toddler when he was placed into the foster system. Cruz, reeling from the loss of his premature 5-month-old daughter a few days ago, said he wanted to come forward to help other children.

“This has been going on for a long time, … and I don’t want it to happen to any more children,” he said. “They didn’t look out for my safety. They weren’t protecting me.”

A number of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of children who suffered abuse or neglect in the foster care system over the years. But they typically take years to litigate and many are dismissed because of a lack of evidence.

“With these sort of lawsuits there are procedural hurdles that often prevent the court from getting to the substance of the issue, which is, that while the state had these children, they allowed them to get hurt,” said Gerard Glynn, executive director of the statewide children’s advocacy group, Florida’s Children First, in Orlando. “And the question is, should they be allowed to be made whole? … The state does everything in its power to avoid addressing that question.”

DCF spokesman Andy Ritter said the agency had not yet received the brothers’ lawsuit, but department policy prevented him from commenting on it anyway. He said the department has a zero tolerance policy for any abuse in foster care homes.

Asked if anything had changed at the agency since de la Cruz, the youngest brother, left the foster care system six years ago, Ritter said a department representative now visits all 29,284 children in the foster care system once a month.

Joseph H. Saunders, attorney for de la Cruz and Flores, said the brothers’ case files are full of their claims of abuse but show little action on the part of the state to either investigate their plight or check into their foster families.

“The failings of the department resulted from a lack of funding and inadequate staffing of the department,” said Saunders, a Pinellas Park attorney who has also handled some cases on behalf of victims alleging abuse by priests.

Though lawsuits over abuse in the foster care system are difficult to win, some cases have resulted in judgments. Still, there is a statutory $100,000 cap on the state’s liability. Any judgment above that must be approved by the Legislature in a special spending bill.

Some cases have been won by filing a federal civil rights lawsuit. One 16-year-old girl who was repeatedly raped by her foster father in Miami-Dade County beginning when she was 8 years old won a $650,000 settlement this way, said Karen Gievers, her Tallahassee attorney and president of Children’s Advocacy Foundation, a nonprofit organization set up to educate about children’s needs.

De la Cruz, who is now disabled from a car accident, was first placed into a foster care home when he was about 3 years old because his mother, who had six children, was an alcoholic who left them unsupervised and without food, the lawsuit says.

In his second foster care home when he was 7, he claims he was sodomized and his sister was raped by another older son of the family.

In all, he was moved about a dozen times to foster homes in Brandon, Tampa and Plant City and sexually abused by different people when he was 10 and 14. De la Cruz’s sister, who was placed with him, is not part of the lawsuit, and he said he had not seen her in some time.

The other brother, Flores, now 32, was placed in 16 different foster homes. He was not present at the news conference in Saunders’ office Tuesday. But he claims he was sexually abused beginning when he was 9. He said he informed his counselor, but no one believed him, the lawsuit says.

De la Cruz said he also faced disbelief on the part of his caseworkers. They continued to write reports that indicated the abuse was unfounded.

“I was very afraid and I couldn’t trust nobody,” said de la Cruz, who attended Sickles High School in northwest Hillsborough County. “I felt no one believed me, No. 1 because I was a boy.”

He said he had not sought criminal charges against any of the people he claims abused him, but Saunders said he might do so in the future.

He said the abuse has scarred him emotionally and made him question his sexuality, “whether I was going to be gay.”

“I had a lot of anger and I took a lot of therapy,” he said. “If it weren’t for therapy, I’d probably be one of them (an abuser).”

[Last modified October 13, 2004, 00:37:14]