A Pierce County woman is suing the state Department of Social and Health Services, alleging the agency did not notify her or law enforcement officials that her daughter had reported being sexually abused.
The woman says the alleged abuse continued longer than it should have because of the lapse and that her daughter suffered physically and emotionally as a result.
She seeks unspecified damages.
The News Tribune is not naming the woman in order to protect the identity of her daughter, who is now 16.
Thomas Shapley, a spokesman for the Department of Social and Health Services, said Friday the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
The woman’s attorneys, Monte Bersante and Sunni Ko, filed the lawsuit this week in Superior Court.
The suit contends that in 2006, when the girl was 10, she told an employee at her school that her great aunt’s husband was abusing her. She, her mother and younger brother were living with the couple on Joint Base Lewis-McChord at the time, according to the lawsuit.
The school employee contacted Child Protective Services, a division of DSHS, to report the girl’s statement, the lawsuit states.
The school employee offered to notify the girl’s mother but allegedly was told by a CPS worker not to, that the agency would call the mother and JBLM officials, the lawsuit states.
That never happened, the plaintiff contends.
As a result, the abuse continued until 2009, when the great aunt’s husband was investigated in another molestation case, the lawsuit states. The school employee’s report to CPS regarding the plaintiff’s daughter came to light then, according to the suit.
The man pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in that case and received a suspended sentence.
“As a direct and proximate result of the negligence of defendants, (the girl) suffered physical and emotional injuries, the full extent of which are unknown, and for which she is entitled to be compensated,” the lawsuit states.