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Unreported Child-On-Child Sexual Abuse Leads to Settlement for Two Developmentally Disabled Boys


Disclaimer: Most cases result in a lower recovery. Results may not be typical and reflect awards before deduction for attorneys’ fees and expenses. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.

When the two developmentally disabled, minor boys were placed in the first of a series of group homes, their nightmares only began. Once in the homes, both were repeatedly physically, emotionally and sexually abused by other children and staff. Despite staff witnessing  the abuse, it was not documented or reported to the Florida Abuse Hotline.

Furthermore, plaintiff’s attorneys later learned that the staff members were engaged in personal relationships with supervisors who discouraged reporting of the abuse. Such relationships were prohibited by the homes, and would have been plainly apparent to executives with the homes.

Over the course of several years, the boys were transferred to new homes, and sometimes the homes changed ownership, but they were often overseen by the same group of supervisors.

Defendants were aware of ongoing child-on-child sexual abuse between the residents of the group home in which the plaintiffs resided, as well as the assaults by staff, yet failed to take any action to protect or adequately supervise the children or document the abuse.

When reports were investigated, staff claimed the boys’ developmental disabilities prevented them from giving clear accounts of what might have happened. Further, staff and management at one group home attempted to impede a Department of Children and Families investigation. One supervisor, a former Department of Children and Families investigator, even used his knowledge of the investigatory process to further harm the victims and damage their testimonies.

The damage from the abuse was dramatic. One boy, according to a demand letter from the attorneys, reported “being scared, hurt, and mad that these things happened,” and of having “bad dreams, fear of being safe, and at times…sleeping with a knife under his bed.”

Trial attorney Howard Talenfeld represented the plaintiffs, who brought suit against Your Friends and Neighbors of Florida, Inc.; Community Opportunities, Inc.; The Phineas Corporation, a/k/a The Sunrise Group; Sunrise Community Services, Inc.; Sunrise Community, Inc.; Sunrise Community of Polk County, Inc. d/b/a Sunrise Community of Northeast Florida; Sunrise Opportunities, Inc.; and Sunrise 2000, Inc.

Howard led the team that sued the homes’ owners for damages, including cost of future care and treatment, as well as damages associated with past or future pain and suffering, humiliation, or loss of enjoyment of life.

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