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Court rules DCF employees not immune to lawsuit

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The adoptive parents of three children who were sexually abused in foster care may proceed with their lawsuit against three former Department of Children and Families (DCF) employees, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

Former DCF counselor Ed Foltz, former supervisor Deborah Jones and former counselor Virginia Jordan “knowingly subjected the children to a substantial risk of serious harm and exhibited deliberate indifference to the known risk, conduct already clearly established as unconstitutional,” the panel ruled. As a result, they could not claim qualified immunity as state employees, since those protections do not apply to unconstitutional conduct.

Foltz, Jones and Jordan placed the children—ages 3, 5 and 8—in a home with an older child who had a history of sexual aggression toward younger children, and then failed to implement a safety plan to protect them, the court found. When child-on-child sexual abuse was reported in the home, the three failed to remove the children, allegedly exposing them to further abuse.

Howard Tallenfeld, an attorney for the children, told the Associated Press he hoped for a settlement.

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