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Report: Treatment Of Kids In Oklahoma DHS Care 'Immoral'

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Two new reports were filed Wednesday in the lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Two new reports were filed Wednesday in the lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Paul DeMuro is one of the attorneys representing nine children who are named in the DHS lawsuit. Paul DeMuro is one of the attorneys representing nine children who are named in the DHS lawsuit.
The report made by an independent consultant draws shocking conclusions about some of the children in DHS's care. The report made by an independent consultant draws shocking conclusions about some of the children in DHS's care.

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- There are disturbing new details into allegations of abuse within Oklahoma's child welfare system. A cracked skull, a fractured leg, split lips and belt-sized bruises - those are just a few of the abuses described in two new reports filed in the federal lawsuit against Oklahoma's Department of Human Services. 

R.J. is one of the nine children named in the federal lawsuit against DHS.

"And when you go to the nine kids the stories are shocking," said Paul DeMuro, attorney for the plaintiffs.

R.J. has one of those shocking stories. The lawyers representing him hired two social work experts to review his case files and the files of the eight other children.

According to their report, R.J. spent more than 2,000 days in the state's care, but the Department of Human Services never really cared for him. He entered the system when he was just three years old, after accusations surfaced that his stepfather sexually abused him and his sisters.

According to his case file, his mother had full knowledge of the sexual abuse.

R.J. was placed in seven different foster homes and shelters in less than two years, with few contacts with his DHS caseworker. Then the report says he was returned to the mother who had failed to protect him and his siblings.

Two years later, R.J. was back in state custody after more accusations of sexual abuse by his mother's new husband.

The report states R.J. bounced around overcrowded shelters and was even placed in a foster home that was on probation, after four different accusations of mistreatment. It goes on to say R.J. suffered more physical abuse and neglect by another set of foster parents.

The report says R.J. told investigators he was regularly beat with a switch by his foster mother, and his "foster father hit him with whatever he had in his hand."         

According to R.J.'s case files, the foster mother told the caseworker "If you don't beat them down they will run all over you."

The boy was in that home for eight months before he was moved.

The report concludes the system failed R.J. and the other nine plaintiffs, and that those failures were system-wide - and preventable.

It’s inescapable conclusion that not only are our nine kids being harmed. but all of the kids in the system are at the same risk of harm as our nine kids," said Paul DeMuro, attorney for R.J. and the other eight children.

These experts say the same things went wrong over and over again in these nine cases. And they say if it can happen to them, it could be happening to thousands more kids in DHS custody.

The News On 6 contacted the attorney for The Department of Human Services but did not hear back by deadline.

For her report, Hess reviewed case files for five of the nine children named as plaintiffs in the suit against Oklahoma by Children's Rights, a New York-based child advocacy group.

She says the abuse and neglect the children suffered while in DHS custody was "wholly preventable." 

  

 

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