Woman Who Gave Birth at 12 to Receive $3 Million Settlement from State of Washington Over Failure to Properly Investigate Sexual Abuse

Washington state has agreed to pay $3 million to a woman who claimed officials did not properly investigate when she gave birth at age 12 after receiving essentially no prenatal care.

As a result, the woman, who identified herself by the initials R.R., said she was made to suffer 15 more years of sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of the baby’s father — her mother’s boyfriend.

R.R. will now receive one of the biggest-ever legal settlements from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) in a single-plaintiff case, according to the state.

“This was an outrageous failure on DSHS’ part,” said Michael Pfau, who along with Jason Amala represented R.R. “They did virtually no investigation concerning a 12-year-old pregnant girl, which allowed her to essentially be held captive for over a decade and raped on a daily basis.”

The settlement averts a trial in a lawsuit filed in Pierce County Superior Court in April 2012.

State officials said they did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement.

DSHS spokeswoman Mindy Chambers said the state did investigate after the 1995 pregnancy and provided parenting support to the preteen but was not informed by the sixth-grader or her mother of any sexual abuse.

The man has not been charged with abuse.

Yet state documents, provided by Pfau and Amala, paint a puzzling picture of DSHS’ investigation into the pregnancy.

A “summary assessment” completed in March 1996 noted that “there has been expressed concern by an older daughter in the family of physical and verbal abuse by the mother’s boyfriend, and possibly sexual abuse.”

The document added that “the whole situation raised lots of questions, but there was no evidence of any neglect of the infant.”

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SOURCE:  Brian M. Rosenthal
Seattle Times

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