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$2.8 Verdict - (M.B. v. Women's Christian Alliance, et al., Federal Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania) SEXUAL ASSAULT / NEGLIGENCE / PREMISES LIABILITY / CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Sexual abuse of a 4 year old girl by a 3rd party while she was in foster care - The identity of the 4 year old minor plaintiff has been kept confidential due to the sensitive nature of this case. M.B. was a young girl who was raped in 1995 and 1996, at age 4, while in foster care. She was placed in a foster home by the City Department of Human Services (DHS) in coordination with a 3rd party placement agency. Both entities had various obligations to look after the safety of the minor before and after placing her there. Despite this, M.B. was sexually abused by a 38 year old neighborhood handy-man who worked for and assisted the elderly foster mother at the foster home. The foster mother allowed this mentally challenged homeless neighbor to live in the basement of the foster home for at least 3 months while M.B. was also living there, creating the potential for unsupervised access to the child.

In a separate criminal proceeding which took place prior to the civil trial in which the $2.8 million verdict was achieved, this man pled guilty to Statutory Sexual Assault, Indecent Assault, and Corrupting a Minor in addition to drug possession. He also had a drug conviction prior to the foster mother permitting him to live in the foster home with M.B., however, no criminal background check was ever done on him despite him being seen by their employees on several occasions at the foster home. As a result of the sexual molestation, plaintiff understandably suffered deep mental and emotional scarring and also contracted Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and genital warts. Although the genital warts were surgically removed, HPV is a permanent sexually transmitted disease which increases M.B. risk of cervical and uterine cancer as well as the risk of a hysterectomy early in life.

At trial, plaintiffs were able to prove that the foster mother breached her duty of care to the minor plaintiff in failing to properly supervise her, and by putting her in harmís way by allowing the neighbor who sexually molested her to live under the same roof. Plaintiffs were also able to prove that various social workers breached the duty of care owed to the minor plaintiff in failing to properly investigate this manís repeated presence in the foster home, and to perform a background check on him. The man who actually sexually assaulted M.B. was sued as a defendant but did not appear or testify at trial as he was in prison for these crimes. At deposition, however, he denied his guilt, claiming he pleaded guilty to avoid a harsher sentence. The City a was released from the case prior to trial in a $500,000.00 settlement which plaintiffís counsel secured in addition to the $2.8 million verdict.

This informational piece was prepared by Silverman & Fodera. If you would like more information on this topic, call us at (800) 220-LAW1, or use the "Do I Have A Case?" link on this web site.