$5 Million Verdict Against DCF in Sex Abuse Case Could Go to Lawmakers

By: Margie Menzel News Service of Florida | Posted: October 29, 2013 3:55 AM

A Palm Beach County jury on Friday found that the state Department of Children and Families should pay $5 million in the sexual assault of a 9-year-old boy by a slightly older foster child -- but collecting the money will be easier said than done.

The jury agreed that the 2003 sexual assault had done lasting damage to the victim, who is now 20 years old, and awarded $5 million to compensate for the suffering he has endured, the treatment he will require and the loss of his future earnings.

"He has severe depression and severe post-traumatic stress disorder," said attorney Howard Talenfeld, who represents the victim and his family.

But since the state's sovereign-immunity laws shield DCF from having to pay such a large award, Talenfeld is pushing for lawmakers to pass what is known as a "claims" bill. Under sovereign immunity, government agencies cannot be forced to pay more than $200,000 or $300,000 in damages, depending on the number of claims involved in an incident, unless the Legislature passes a bill to go above the limits.

"Claims bills are tough," he acknowledged. "But historically, with this department, where there are egregious facts and circumstances, we've seen several claims bills (succeed) in the last five or six years."

Talenfeld and his colleague, Stephan Le Clainche, argued in Palm Beach Circuit Court that DCF had placed the foster child with the victim's family in 2002, but had failed to warn them of his sexually aggressive nature.

The attorneys had sought a larger settlement -- nearly $16.7 million for the victim and $280,000 for his father -- than the jury awarded. The jury set the total amount of damages at $10 million, but said the victim's family was partly responsible for not giving up the foster child or signing a safety plan. As a result, DCF's share of the damages is $5 million.

Talenfeld said the significance of the verdict was that the jury held DCF responsible.

"So I am hopeful, given the fact that the Legislature right now is very sensitive to the failures of the department, that they'll look very carefully at another bad set of circumstances in a case where a young man's life was destroyed," he said

DCF did not respond to requests for comment.

Talenfeld, who is also the president of Florida's Children First, a nonprofit watchdog group, said the chain of assaults is anything but an isolated case.

"The data, when Florida has chosen to record it, has been horrific," he said. "The problem has been systemic. And lives are destroyed when kids are sexually abused by kids in (foster) care."

According to Talenfeld, the perpetrator was 10 years old when he sexually assaulted his 2 1/2-year-old sister and then, in his second foster placement, became the victim of a 17-year-old boy. Talenfeld also said the perpetrator, who is now 21 and behind bars on unrelated charges, had sexually attacked several children in the victim's home.


Comments (6)

1:22PM NOV 4TH 2013
Great job by two Florida attorneys! Talenfeld and his colleague, Stephan Le Clainche courageously fought for the rights of a child when DCF once again FAILED to protect the safety of a child who was sexually assulted in Palm Beach County, Florida! This is an example of why we should have a jury pool for every court case that involves children, and why we need to push for Talenfeld's suggested "Claims Bill. Time for a new Governor in Florida as well!
1:41PM NOV 4TH 2013
Here are just a few more cases of children's lives being destroyed in Palm Beach County, due to evidence of abuse being ignored and the failures of DCF. Many cases are not listed here due to "Gag Orders" or the protective parent is in fear of retaliation by the courts. This has got to stop! factscourtwatch
Never Give UP
4:20PM NOV 1ST 2013
You are so right. Insiders say Borders and friends used Green Isle Boys Ranch for a pedophile ranch for their political friends coming to Orlando area for over twenty years. Then when the news leaked they covered up all the rapes and the boys attempted suicides and all.

Borders is well know to have covered up a lot of sex crimes. One particular one an older step brother was know to be molesting both a boy and girl in the family. The mother knew but told the boys it was OK because they were homo's. She worked for a powerful elected official. One of the victims father's went directly to Borders an Grinnell to find out why no arrest had been made. That was around one year ago and another rapist is till free and committing more crimes.

Crotty is the brother of Orange County criminal Richard Crotty. Deputy Crotty has a son who is a detention deputy that cost us millions in legal cost because he made a transgender make show him it's breasts in a jail closet. These people are the scum of the earth and their leader is an angel of the devil himself if there is such a thing.

Everyone around here just keeps wondering how old this nightmare can last, so many people are being abused literally and sexually as well. the only way for the boys to get hired or get a promotion and raise is to give it up for the boss.
8:27AM NOV 5TH 2013
This is horrifying, but as disturbing as it is, this is how Florida officials treat children. Look up "The White House Boys" and how Florida authorities raped, beat, and buried hundreds of children in a reform school and how the authorities all covered up for each other for years. This is SICKENING! Someone NEEDS to step in and protect Florida's children!
This is why they lie and cover up
7:16AM OCT 29TH 2013
This is why they lie and cover up the crimes against our children at all types of these facilities.The jury sided with the victim $5 MILLION dollars worth. Multiply that times the number of victims lives destroyed by Florida government and it's officials and the state would be bankrupt.

Well since victims can not get the government officials properly charged with the crimes of Obstruction of Justice and other crimes they are known to have committed civil suits are the only way to bring justice to the victims of the powerful.

Lake County Sheriff Gary Borders (appointed by Jeb Bush who also protected his boot camps sheriff's child abuse) and his FDOC vendor friends who own the various BRIDGES OF AMERICA corporations established and run GREEN ISLE BOYS RANCH near Clermont in Lake County, Fl fro 1989 until it closed in 2010 afteron Feb. 3, 2010 new house parents leaked they were housing FIVE boys who had been raped over the summer of 2009 by an older boy and that some of these boys were attempting suicide. The sheriff;s deputies had responded to those calls as well but nothing was being done for the victims. Soon pictures surfaced of a grinning Sheriff Borders right next to the rapist in summer of 2009. Insiders say the sheriff was special friends with the rapist Tyler Anthony Jackson and halted the rapes investigation until the news of the rapes was leaked to the public. Then on Feb. 4, 2010 trying to halt the outcries from the public because he had done nothing for the victims for over 72 days sent out his detectives to fake up and arrest. Friends in the 5th Circuit of Florida also faked up a prosecution and fake probation.

Google Green Isle Ranch - Sheriff Borders and you will find the case files and handwritten statement of the victim. Check out the 44 page summary and you will see pictures of the rapist at Wet & Wild with friends just days after the rapes were reported; as well as pictures of the rapist living it up with friends one week before the FDLE claims he plead guilty to a host of sexual batteries. Then just months after the 5th circuit covered up all these crimes he was committing dating violence in Citrus County, Fl; having Sheriff's deputies taking reports of violence and committing assault with his vehicle against the parents of yet another juvenile victim of his madness.

All during the 20 plus years Gary Borders and friends operated the Green Isle Boys Ranch there were leaks of sex abuse of the by house parents and other older students. In 2000 Keith Mitnik (now with Morgan & Morgan) represented the parents of a 9 year old boy who was repeated raped by other students and house parents as well. Mitnik sued in Lake County (5th circuit) court. The case was settled out of court. The Judge was Williams Law of Clermont. Judge's Wife Julia Law was a board member of the Green Isle Foundation at the same time her husband was the judge in the suit against her and her board.

To this day a rapist is free somewhere on the streets of Citrus County Florida - all because he was special friends with Sheriff Gary Borders.

And the last five victims of Borders and friends along with an unknown total of victims of the house of horrors of Green Isle Boys Ranch will suffer from their experiences for the rest of their lives.

Meanwhile the people of Lake County, Fl have a man running their 700 member so called law enforcement agency who will lie and cover up for his friends who sexually abuse others. And NO! it's not politics it's just the plain old truth. The people and especially the children of Lake County deserve honest investigations and honest prosecutions and honest sentences to be applied the same to all people no matter who their friends are.
Victim of Borders and DCF
9:44AM NOV 1ST 2013
Borders did not just victimize children by allowing them to be raped. He also victimized them in other ways. Read for more info.

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