The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) may be involved in separating families. A former employee filed a lawsuit against the agency for fraudulent processes aimed at justifying the separation of parents and their children.
According to The Epoch Times, Dr. Susan Spell and her 18-year-old son Nicholas filed a $750 million lawsuit on July 30 against Los Angeles County and individual social workers.
Spell’s legal action was meant to raise awareness of the abuse of power of that institutions use on families who wish to acquire legal custody of children.
Spell said Barbara Smith’s supervisor, a social worker who worked with her, removed several notes from a report she wrote for her children’s custody, only part of which was recovered. “In court, my attorney asked for it to be produced. They never produced all of those pages,” she told The Epoch Times.
The former DCFS worker even resorted to habeas corpus legal proceedings in an attempt to appeal for her children to be returned to her.
“Susan is a physician in L.A. County. She went to pick her kids up from school one day, only to find that DCFS had removed them (…) DCFS convinced the school they had a warrant. They did not have a warrant. They tried to get a warrant but it was denied. They said there was a restraining order against Dr. Spell, but that never existed,” said attorney Stephen Lamont, who is handling Spell’s case.
The doctor’s four children, who were born thanks to a sperm donor, ended up living with her ex-husband Brian Evans, except for her 18-year-old son, who is now with her again. Evans is a plastic surgeon and was accused by his ex-wife of abusing the children, yet DCFS repeatedly labeled the mother’s claims as ‘unfounded,’ according to The Epoch Times.
Meanwhile, Spell’s lawsuit states that Evans was an expert witness for DCFS for 10 years and that one of his sons managed to identify a stepfather’s girlfriend as a worker at DCFS. For her part, the implicated woman admitted to having spent private time in Evans’s room, but rejected the fact that there was a romantic or sexual relationship.
Melinda Murphy, another former DCFS employee who testified in Spell’s case, said she was trained as a children’s supervisor for the Los Angeles County agency, a position she eventually resigned from. According to her testimony to The Epoch Times, the former DCFS social worker indicated that in 10 years of work she observed bad practices.
Murphy revealed that during her first day of training, the coach said to her and other employees: “We should be ashamed of what we have done to some of the families that we have sworn to serve.”
In an affidavit—quoted by Epoch Times—he indicated that during his training and on the job at DCFS he observed that the agency had a tendency to blame innocent parents through false testimony, falsification of reports, and fabrication of evidence to justify separation.
Many families have been harmed. The family of Anthony Avalos sued the child welfare agency for $50 million on the grounds that they deliberately ignored their concerns about possible child abuse.
Maria Barron, the boy’s aunt, told the Los Angeles Times that after several efforts she did not get custody of Anthony and his siblings even though reports of abuse and neglect were filed for several years. At a press conference, the woman quoted some of the boy’s last words before he died, “I can’t wait until you and Uncle David can be my new mom and dad.”
In statements Barron offered last Thursday, she said she supported a lawsuit by other family members against the County, DCFS, and one of their contractors, alleging that their social workers intentionally ignored abuse concerns and failed to protect Anthony.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the family members explained that the lawsuit was filed by Victor Avalos, the biological father of the child living in Mexico, and the child’s siblings who are in foster care.
The lawsuit that was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court cites numerous causes of action such as wrongful death, gross negligence, and civil rights violations. For now, the child’s mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, await trial to face charges of torture and death of the child in 2018. They could face the death penalty.