HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, the plaintiff is listed as Jane Doe. But Jane Doe is a Hernando County mother, who is protecting her identity and that of her two children.
She is taking on the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), and three other agencies that handle the state’s foster care program.
“I’m very angry," the mother said. "I have a lot of anger. I am emotionally distraught because I’m trying to plead here for the system to help the children.”
This woman said her two children, both with special needs, were in foster care in 2018. The lawsuit claims both children were sexually abused while living with a Lake County couple.
A couple she said had previous complaints about how they treated foster kids. The mother claims a disturbing video was taken during one of her visits with her children and showed how distraught they were, even talking about suicide.
“That’s how bad it was, they would have rather not lived than be sexually abused every day," she said.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office investigated the foster parents, but never made an arrest. But reports show the foster parents were investigated 10 times by Kids Central, Inc. for allegations of sexual abuse. They have lost their license to be foster parents.
Along with DCF, Kids Central, Youth & Family Alternatives and Lifestream Behavioral Services are also named in the lawsuit.
“I think there were failures across the board from all entities," attorney Michael Winkleman said. "I think the buck ultimately stops with DCF. But, I do think there needs to be accountability on each of these agencies so they are held responsible so they all make the changes that are required to make sure this does not happen again."
The mother said her children have been back with her for about three years but they are traumatized. She’s also frustrated the foster parents have never been charged with a crime.
“It breaks my heart. Literally, my skin is crawling because I’m so aggravated that he should be put in jail for his crime that he committed. And for anybody that commits a crime to a child," she said.
We’ve reached out to DCF to find out more about this case and get their reaction to the lawsuit. We are still waiting for a response.