Crime

Tacoma woman gets $1.3 million to settle abuse lawsuit

A Tacoma woman who endured years of physical and mental abuse at three state-licensed foster homes has settled a lawsuit against the state of Washington for $1.3 million.

U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle approved the settlement last week, court records show.

The woman, identified by the initials S.R., sued in April 2014, contending that as a child she was subjected to an odyssey of horrors, including sexual abuse, beatings and humiliations.

The state did not do enough to vet the foster families with whom she was placed, she contended.

One of her attorneys, Sergio Garciduenas-Sease, said in a news release that “we are pleased S.R.’s voice was finally heard by the state.”

“Our client will finally have an opportunity for a safe and stable life, a life she always deserved,” Garcidueanas-Sease said. “She endured pain that no one should ever endure, especially a foster child.”

Efforts to get a comment from the state Department of Social and Health Services, which oversees the state’s foster-care program, were not successful Wednesday.

The plaintiff was 4 year old when she 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 state first placed her with a couple later found to have systematically abused the foster children in their care.

The husband ultimately was convicted of multiple sex crimes against children, and the state agreed to pay $11 million to settle claims by six people placed with the couple. S.R. did not share in that settlement.

Her next stop was in a home where foster children were beaten with wooden spoons and forced to watch their foster parents have sex with each other, according to the lawsuit. The state later yanked that couple’s foster-care license.

S.R.’s third and final stop was with a husband and wife who adopted her in 2002 after she’d lived with them for about four years.

The husband and the couple’s son later were convicted of sexually abusing the girl, and a state inquiry found the wife frequently put her children at risk by not reporting her husband’s inappropriate actions, court records show.

S.R.’s plight came to light when she broke down sobbing at school one day and was taken to see a counselor.

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