MO--Abuse & retaliation suit filed vs. huge firm about foster kids
For immediate release: Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016
Unusual child abuse suit is filed
It’s against huge, for-profit company
Firm does foster care placement across US
State agency found that it deceived foster mom
That led to a teenage boy abusing her grandchild
Then, the firm retaliated against her in two ways, suit says
An unusual new lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a boy, his mom and his grandmother. It charges that a huge, nation-wide company deceived a veteran foster parent, knowingly put a teenager who had molested before into her home, and retaliated against her after she reported that the teen sexually abused her grandchild.
The defendant is Missouri Mentors (http://www.mo-mentor.com/), which is part of a Boston-based National Mentor Services (617-790-4800), a for-profit company that places disabled kids with foster families.
The suit charges that the firm’s Kansas City director "knew that (a teenaged boy) had a history of sexual abusing” youngster(s) before putting him with a grandmother who is an experienced foster mom. The company allegedly "concealed” this from, her even though she'd specified - beforehand and in writing – that she didn't want to care for any teens who had been accused of committing abuse.
When the grandmother told Missouri Mentor about the alleged abuse, the company “retaliated against (her) by refusing to answer her call about another child in her care who was having heart problems” and “by refusing to place another child in her care,” the suit says.
“It’s appalling that a huge company reportedly endangers vulnerable kids and deceives compassionate care-givers just to make more profit,” said David Clohessy of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “And it’s worse when they allegedly retaliate against a concerned and credible whistleblower in ways that endanger kids even more.”
“Disabled children deserve the best care and foster parents who are willing to help them. They deserve honesty from any and all officials, private and public, who are involved,” said Rebecca Randles, a Kansas City attorney who represents the abused boy, his mother and his grandmother.
Randles stressed that others with information about this crime or other crimes involving foster children should call law enforcement.
“Often, companies try to handle these situations ‘in house,’ she said. “But it’s important that victims get help from independent sources, like police, prosecutors, attorneys and outside non-profits.”
The Missouri Department of Mental Health and Department of Social Services Children Division (“DSS”) contract with Missouri Mentor to provide various services, including therapeutic foster care services, according to the lawsuit.
The 21 page lawsuit, filed last Friday in Jackson County court (where the alleged crimes happened), accuses the company of nine offenses including fraud, negligence, malpractice, failure to supervise and breach of contract. The allegations came to light when one of the victims reported to the grandmother in November of 2014.
The three plaintiffs are represented by Rebecca Randles and Candice Johnson-Bryant. Their firm has represented hundreds of victims of sexual violence in Missouri, Kansas, Massachusetts, Iowa, Illinois and Colorado.
Missouri MENTOR’s state director is Rachel Kramer (314 991 7944, based in Maryland Heights) and the head of the KC office is Joshua Pollard (816 503 8990, 3720 S. Arrowhead Ave. in Independence). (Pollard is also a defendant in the case.) The company also has offices in Columbia, Hallsville and Harrisonville.