Father sues DCYF after child’s death
Man’s daughter murdered 3 years ago due to alleged oversight
MANCHESTER – By the time Sadee Willott died three years ago at the age of 21 months, social workers with New Hampshire’s Division for Children, Youth and Families had investigated her parents nine times for suspected abuse.
Despite the many reports of black eyes and broken bones, division officials closed eight investigations as “unfounded,” while one was still open when she was murdered, according to a new lawsuit brought by Sadee’s father, Christopher Willott.
Kaitlin Paquette, Sadee’s mother, is currently serving a prison sentence of 21-to-42 years in the aftermath of pleading guilty to killing her daughter. The official cause of Sadee’s Sept. 6, 2015 death was found to be “blunt impact head injuries.”
Willott, described in his own lawsuit as a violent drug-abuser once found passed out with a hypodermic needle in his arm, is seeking compensatory damages from the state through the wrongful death lawsuit filed in the Hillsborough Superior Court-North in Manchester on Monday.
Willott is being represented by Bedford attorney Rus Rilee, who won a $6.75 million settlement from the state earlier this year for a case in which DCYF reportedly kept two young girls in a home in which they were subjected to sexual abuse.
In Sadee’s case, Manchester police opened a criminal investigation into the DCYF child protection workers who failed to stop the abuse, according to the lawsuit. No division worker was criminally charged, but then Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard publicly blamed the organization for its role in the child’s death.
“[I]n the Willott homicide, DCYF failed to protect Sadee (sic),” Willard told reporters at the time.
Sadee Willott’s life started on Nov. 15, 2013. Her first DCYF investigation began just four days later when the hospital called the agency to report the newborn had tested positive for marijuana. According to the lawsuit, as the months passed and investigations piled up, state child protection workers would fail to meet agency deadlines, fail to conduct interviews with witnesses and fail to read up on prior investigations. Despite findings that the baby girl was at “high risk,” the agency would continue to close cases of suspected neglect or abuse as “unfounded,” documents state.
Sadee’s death, along with that of Nashua’s Brielle Gage – who was 3 when her mother, Katlyn Marin, beat her to death in 2014 – sparked an independent investigation into DCYF, which eventually found the agency consistently failed to protect children from risk of harm, and that the organization closed cases of abuse and neglect as unfounded, despite clear evidence to the contrary.
Brielle’s biological father, William Boucher, is currently suing DCYF in the Manchester court, though that case is sealed while Marin appeals her murder conviction. Marin is serving a prison term of 45 years-to-life. Rilee also represents Boucher in his lawsuit.
Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @Telegraph_DF.