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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A former foster child in Broward county is suing the agencies charged with protecting him over allegations that a foster parent sexually abused him.
The lawsuit filed by child advocate Howard Talenfeld, alleges that private child welfare agencies failed to appropriately conduct standard background checks before granting the foster parent a license.
The suit names the accused abuser, ChildNet, and Kids in Distress.
ChildNet and Kids in Distress are private companies contracted by the Florida Department of Children and Families to implement and oversee child safety, welfare and foster placement services.
“Required, common-sense precautions that would have protected this child from this accused child molester weren’t taken,” said Talenfeld.
According to Talenfeld, the accused foster parent had been investigated for allegations of sexual abuse but ‘never’ charged.
He says the accused at the age of 49 and unmarried sought to receive a foster care license from Kids in Distress in May of 2008. But Talenfeld says incomplete background checks were done. Required checks with law enforcement agencies at addresses where the accused lived would have uncovered red flags that would have led to the denial of a license, according to Talenfeld.
Talenfeld says the checks would have revealed he had been arrested on the charge of cocaine possession and later investigated for lewd and lascivious acts after a minor child disclosed that the man showed him a pornographic picture of a child and asked him to perform sex acts.
Talenfeld says the man had told the agencies, he preferred as foster children, young boys between the ages of 5 and 12.
“Such routine requests and inquiries would have immediately alerted Kids in Distress that he had lied on his application, was a danger to children, was not of good moral character and should be disqualified from becoming a foster parent,” said Talenfeld.
Among the foster children the accused cared for was Gabriel Myers the 7-year-old Margate child who hung himself in the home of ‘another’ foster family in 2009. Talenfeld says it was less than a month after the foster parent told agency officials he could no longer care for Myers.
The lawsuit alleges negligence by Kids in Distress and Childnet for failing to ensure the health, safety and well being of all children in the state who are cared for by family foster homes in Broward County as well as batttery and intentional infliction of emotional distress by the accused foster parent.
Kids in Distress released a statement on the matter saying, “Kids in Distress has a longstanding tradition of caring for and supporting children and families in our community. While we cannot share any additional information regarding allegations due to confidentiality regulations. We are dedicated to protecting our children and will comply with any investigations.”