Ex-foster child sues DSHS, alleging long list of horrors

A 20-year-old Tacoma woman who contends she was subjected to an odyssey of horror as a foster child has sued the state of Washington for $5 million.

The plaintiff, identified as S.R., says she suffered “physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, neglect and exposure to intolerable living conditions” during her four years in foster care, according to her lawsuit, which was filed April 7 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

The abuse continued after she was legally adopted by her last foster family even though multiple referrals were made to Child Protective Services regarding her safety, her lawsuit contends.

Her adopted father and brother later were convicted in Pierce County Superior Court of sexually abusing the girl and sentenced to prison.

Officials with the Department of Social and Health Services failed to properly vet three foster families the girl was placed with and ignored warning signs that she was abused at each stop, her attorney, Vito de la Cruz of Yakima, wrote in a complaint for damages.

DSHS spokesman John Wiley said last week the agency had no comment on the lawsuit.

S.R. was made a ward of the state in 1998 after her mother, a drug addict with mental illness, was declared unfit to care for her. The girl was 4 at the time.

The state first placed her with Jose and Juanita Miranda of Tacoma. The Mirandas later were found to have systematically and brutally abused the foster children in their care, and the state two years ago agreed to pay $11 million to six people who had the misfortune to be placed with the couple.

S.R., who did not share in the settlement, was molested by Jose Miranda during her three-month stay in his home, her lawsuit contends. Miranda later was convicted of multiple sex crimes against children.

State social workers pulled her out the Mirandas’ home and placed her with another couple.

Things weren’t much better there, according to the lawsuit. There were reports that foster children were having sex with each other, were forced to watch their foster parents have sex, were beaten with wooden spoons and subjected to other abuse.

“Plaintiff revealed being forced to do wall sits, having to stick her nose in the corner and being ‘tortured’ when they were locked in their rooms ,” her lawsuit states.

The state moved her out of that home in November 1998 and later yanked the foster-care license of the couple. The News Tribune is not naming them because they were never charged with a crime and are not defendants in the lawsuit.

S.R.’s last stop was with LaVern and Violet Rosenfelt. She spent four years as a foster child with the Rosenfelts before they legally adopted her in 2002.

She contends LaVern Rosenfelt sexually molested her and her older adoptive brother, Travis Rosenfelt, raped her.

S.R. also alleges she told Violet Rosenfelt about the abuse, but her adoptive mother did not report it to authorities.

Violet Rosenfelt is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

A state social worker later wrote in a report that Violet Rosenfelt “established a pattern of putting her children at risk by allowing contact with their perpetrator and not responding appropriately,” the lawsuit states.

LaVern and Travis Rosenfelt later were convicted of sex crimes in Pierce County Superior Court and sentenced to prison terms.

“Defendant state of Washington owed a duty of care to plaintiff,” her lawsuit states. “As a direct and proximate cause of defendant state of Washington’s negligence and fault, plaintiff suffered severe damage.”