Lawsuit: Luzerne County Children and Youth Services UPDATED
A 19-year-old man ” identified as “T.A.P.” in the complaint, and his brother were removed from their father’s custody in October 2004 after Freeland police answered a call that the boys had been stealing and begging for food. Police searched the home, which was in “deplorable condition,” and found marijuana in the freezer, according to the complaint.
The boys’ father was not present.
Luzerne County Children and Youth Services then put them into foster care, but “unfortunately for the kids, they went from one unsafe environment to another,” said Edward Ciarimboli, the plaintiff’s attorney.”
The former foster child says “he suffered from 2004 to 2008 while in the care of several foster homes, leaving him with physical limitations. He filed a civil complaint in federal court Friday [August 3, 2012] against Luzerne County Children and Youth Services, accusing the agency of ignoring his grievances.”
” From October 2004 to January 2005, he lived with Bert and Jacqui Yachera in West Hazleton. The plaintiff then moved to the United Children’s Home in West Hazleton for two months. He suffered physical abuse at both places, according to the complaint.
In February 2005, the plaintiff moved to the home of Bert and Alicia Baker in Mifflinburg. For the next three years, the complaint alleges, the Bakers attacked him about twice per week, denied him food, forced him to perform physical labor and kept him from contacting friends and his natural mother.
Attempts to reach the Yacheras, Bakers and United Children’s Home for comment Monday night were unsuccessful.
In May 2010, the natural mother testified that her son repeatedly suffered abuse under the Bakers’ care.
In all cases, the plaintiff said he told caseworkers, but no one intervened.
Frank Castano, director of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services, said Monday he could not comment specifically because he was not aware of the lawsuit, but that the agency did not ignore grievances.
“We take everything seriously and investigate it on its merit,” Castano said.
The plaintiff, now living in Cogan Station near Williamsport, is seeking damages for future lost wages, but will not know that dollar amount until after he meets with a vocational counselor, Ciarimboli said. He will also seek damages, such as those for pain and suffering, but the jury will decide that figure, said the attorney. Ciarimboli said his firm always works on a contingency basis, meaning it only gets paid when it wins.
A suit against those accused of abusing the plaintiff is also coming, Ciarimboli said.”
[Citizen's Voice 8/7/12 by Peter Cameron and Bill Wellock]
REFORM Puzzle Piece
Update: “The man, identified as T.A.P., alleges he endured severe physical and psychological abuse at the hands of two foster parents and a foster care home from 2004 to 2008.
According to the suit filed by attorney Edward Ciarimboli:
The man was 12 years old when, in October 2004, he and a sibling were placed in foster care after police found drugs in their family home. The house was found to be in deplorable condition. Over the next four years, Children and Youth Services placed him in foster homes in West Hazleton and Mifflinburg without first assessing the safety of the homes.
The man alleges he was subject to severe physical and emotional abuse at each of the homes. At the Mifflinburg home, he says he also was denied food and forced to perform extensive physical labor at the foster parents’ home and the home of the foster parents’ relatives.
The suit alleges the man advised caseworkers of the abuse, but they failed to take action to protect him.
The suit names several county offices as defendants, including Children and Youth Services and its director, Frank Castano; Mary Dysleski, interim director of Luzerne County Office of Human Services; and Children and Youth caseworkers Cathy Stamets, Marilyh Wilkinson and Becky Silvers-Roads. The foster parents accused of the abuse are not named as defendants.
Castano did not immediately return a phone message Tuesday seeking comment.”
[Times Leader 8/8/12]