Lawyer: DCYF refuses to hand over evidence

Wants judge to sanction DCYF and Easter Seals

MANCHESTER – An attorney for a family suing the Division of Children, Youth & Families and Easter Seals of New Hampshire for allegedly allowing children to be sexually abused during supervised visits wants the agencies sanctioned by the court for refusing to hand over evidence in the case.

Rus Rilee, representing the children and adoptive parents in the lawsuit against DCYF and Easter Seals, said in motions filed in the Hillsborough Superior Court that the two agencies are engaging in “discovery abuse” by not handing over the documents requested in the case.

According to Rilee’s motion, both DCYF and Easter Seals are refusing to hand over documents in the case requested by Rilee. He writes the agencies are seeking a clarification from the court on their already denied request for a protective order.

Both Easter Seals and DCYF had sought a protective order from the court to keep records from Rilee and his clients, though that order was denied. Now, Easter Seals and DCYF are refusing to comply with Rilee’s discovery requests until the court makes another ruling on the already denied protective order, Rilee wrote in his motion.

“It tells us that every single request will be maximally opposed and litigated using, as here, the same arguments already rejected,” Rilee wrote.

New Hampshire’s nonprofit Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, is also a defendant in the case, though not part of the current discovery dispute.

The lawsuit, filed late last year, alleges that DCYF, Easter Seals and CASA were part of the support system that allowed the girls to be abused by their parents.

The biological parents are serving life prison sentences after they were convicted of repeatedly sexually assaulting the girls during unsupervised visits arranged by the DCYF and CASA, the lawsuit states. Part of the criminal case uncovered numerous video recordings the parents took of the sexual assault of the girls, ages 4 and 18 months at the time. The videos depict violent sexual assaults on the children by their biological parents.

According to the lawsuit, DCYF staffer Jennifer Damien and CASA guardian ad litem Lynn Liptay were told numerous times by the foster parents that the children were being abused by the biological parents. The children had been removed from their parents in 2012 and sent to live with the foster parents, who went on to adopt them.

Throughout 2012 and 2013, Damien, Lipay and an Easter Seals volunteer, known as “Missy” in the lawsuit, supervised visits between the children and the biological parents. During some of the supervised visits, the children were assaulted during “bath time,” when the Easter Seals volunteer allowed the parents time alone with the children, according to the lawsuit.

In September 2013, the Claremont Police Department sent Damien a copy of an investigative report in which the biological father is accused of sexually assaulting another child. New in Friday’s filings is the email Claremont police detective Emily Cobb sent Damien, including the report.

Damien continued to allow unsupervised visits with the parents even after being sent the police report. This was finally stopped in November 2013 when the oldest child started telling the foster parents about the sexually assault, resulting in the biological parents’ arrest.

When confronted by the adoptive parents and Cobb, Damien reported said she wanted to give the biological parents “the opportunity to fail,” according to the lawsuit.