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Lawsuit Against N.H. DCYF Seeks Damages, Greater Accountability

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The adoptive parents of two children who were sexually abused are suing the Division of Children, Youth, and Families, arguing the state agency didn’t do enough to protect the victims even after social workers became involved.

The lawsuit also names Easter Seals New Hampshire, a non-profit contracted to provide supervision during parental visits.

The plaintiffs are suing the parties publicly, a move made possible only after a state Supreme Court ruling in August.

“The family is hoping that we can shed some light on what happened to them here so people can be held accountable, and with accountability comes change, and that’s really the purpose of this lawsuit,” says RusRilee, an attorney for the family.  

The children's biological parents are already in prison, serving 25 years to life for videotaping sexual acts performed on siblings under the age of 5.

The lawsuit alleges that DCYF and Easter Seals failed to protect the children by permitting the parents to have unsupervised time , even after concerns of sexual abuse were brought to their attention by local police.

The suit seeks monetary damages, but Rilee is also calling on the state to immediately follow the interim recommendations of an outside audit by hiring more social workers, and implementing a 24/7 staffing schedule.

“The horrific abuse that children are facing everyday in New Hampshire is highly preventable, but only if we as a state choose to make the safety and welfare of our children a top priority.”

An full independent review, ordered by Governor Hassan last October, is ongoing.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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