Florida Teen Allegedly Assaulted While in Care of Service Agency
Sexual assault is an extremely intrusive and emotionally scarring crime. This rings especially true when the victim is a minor and the abuser is a person responsible for protecting her. For one Florida teenager, the system put in place to help her allegedly placed her in harm’s way, adding to an extensive history of sexual abuse.
As reported by the Miami Herald, a 17-year-old girl recently recounted her heartbreaking experiences in a Miami Dade courtroom. Reportedly abandoned by her biological parents, she lived on the streets as a homeless teen. She was preyed upon by human traffickers who forced her into prostitution. It was during this time that she began receiving services from the Florida Department of Child and Families.
The teen was reportedly reunited with her mother and began making progress, until she tried to register for school. According to her testimony, the following events then occurred:
- The teen was advised that she needed to clear up a warrant in Miami Dade
- The Department of Juvenile Justice transported her to Miami.
- She was transported back home by a private agency, contracting with DCF.
- During the trip home, the transporter allegedly gave the teen an alcoholic beverage and had sexual intercourse with her before returning her to her home.
- The teen’s mother learned of the incident through inappropriate text messages from the transporter.
An investigation into the incident reportedly revealed that the transporter was never subjected to an extensive background check. He was reportedly new to the job, with only three days of experience.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia heard the case. In her scathing opinion, she stated “The Court finds that the actions of the agency are not only negligent, but border on reckless… The agency is entrusted with caring for and protecting those most vulnerable to our society: the voiceless children. Clearly, the agency has failed to do this.”
She further stated, “It is equally repugnant to this Court that the agency testified that, had it known ‘that the child was a victim of human trafficking, perhaps a male transporter would not have been the most appropriate person’’ for the several-hour drive. “The agency’s remarks make it sound as if the incident that occurred was actually the child’s fault and not the adult that the agency entrusted her to.”
Sexual Abuse Under the Law
When an individual with authority over a minor performs illegal sexual acts with that minor, it is a type of sexual abuse. This is a criminal matter with serious potential penalties. Additionally, the responsible party in a sexual abuse case can face civil liability, resulting in financial compensation for the victim. Trying these cases can be particularly challenging, due to victim apprehension, state evidentiary rules and court procedural requirements. For this reason, the assistance of an experienced attorney is vital to the success of a sexual abuse civil lawsuit.
If you or a loved one experienced sexual abuse in the West Palm Beach area, our personal injury attorneys at Gary Roberts & Associate, P.A. are here to help. Call the office or contact us today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.