Monday, May 04, 2009

Lawsuit says NY failed to protect children from adoption fraud and abuse

Readers might recall earlier posts about Judith Leekin, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Florida earlier this year for using fictitious identities to adopt 10 disabled children and then later abusing, imprisoning and starving them whilst collecting over one and half million dollars in adoption subsidies. Last week, The Associated Press reported that a lawsuit has been claimed on behalf of the children, claiming that the Administration for Children's Services failed to protect them:
The suit charged that a rapacious Leekin was able to carry out the scam in which she fraudulently collected $1.68 million in adoption subsidies because the city's Administration for Children's Services didn't do its job.

The suit claims that ACS was a "maze of dysfunctional bureaucracy" and could have easily exposed the scheme.

Leekin lived in Florida with the children when the fraud was uncovered in July 2007. According to the lawsuit, she adopted the children in New York City and moved to Florida in 1996, continuing to outwit ACS officials with seemingly little effort.

A spokeswoman for ACS, Sharman Stein, said the agency had "done everything possible to aid in the criminal investigation" and ensure the children were properly care for after Leekin's arrest. Stein said the city "intends to vigorously defend this lawsuit."

Moreover, the suit also contends that in 1988,
a newborn was placed in Leekin's care who died less of month later from supposed "crib death." The suit says ACS didn't conduct an "appropriated investigation" into the infant's death — one that would have revealed she had four other children, including three of the children named in the lawsuit.

Authorities say Leekin also deprived the children of medical care and school. According to the suit, Leekin fostered at least 22 children. One is missing and presumed dead.

See also this article in the New York Times.