The state Attorney General’s Bureau of Children’s Justice is announcing this morning its investigation into San Bernardino County’s Child Protective Services system and allegations that children are repeatedly placed into abusive homes, where they have been severely abused, some to the point of death. (Staff photo by Rick Sforza/The Sun, SCNG)

By Joe Nelson | jnelson@scng.com | San Bernardino Sun
Published: January 24, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Updated: January 24, 2018 at 7:55 pm

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by the adoptive parents of two boys alleges the San Bernardino County’s Department of Children and Family Services failed to disclose that one of the boys had a history of sexually abusing his younger brother and other children.

The unnamed adoptive parents, identified as John and Jane Doe in the lawsuit, allege “direct and derivative negligence,” civil rights violations, and violations of federal adoption and child welfare laws by the county, among other things. The adoptive parents and their youngest adopted son are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Riverside.

In March 2017, the plaintiffs adopted the two boys but were never informed of the older boy’s history of violent and sexually abusive behavior towards his younger brother. Prior to being adopted, the brothers had been in the foster system for three and a half years, according to the lawsuit.

Between 2013 and 2014, the older brother was reported to have engaged in inappropriate behavior with a female foster child, which required removal from the foster home. In July 2014, at a different foster home, he sexually and physically assaulted his younger brother multiple times, according to attorneys Eric Rossman and John Kristensen.

In late 2016 or early 2017, the younger brother informed his assigned counselor about what his brother was doing to him. She assured him something would be done, but instead, the boy was put on psychotropic medication, Depakote, and told he was “psychologically unstable” and a “bad person.” Prior to the two boys being adopted, the younger boy’s counselor told him not to tell his prospective adoptive parents about “their secrets” because he would be removed from their home and moved to another foster home, according to the lawsuit.

“Our client, a young child, suffered severe injuries and lifelong damage as a result of the negligence caused by the County of San Bernardino Department of Children and Family Services,” Kristensen said in a statement Wednesday. He said the county knew of previous reports of sexual abuse and injuries the younger child had endured by his older brother and had a duty to protect the boy and place him in a safe environment.

San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday afternoon and evening.

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