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Oregon Foster Child Who Says He Saw State Workers Having Sex Sues

<p>The Oregon Department of Human Services building in Salem, Ore.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

The Oregon Department of Human Services building in Salem, Ore.

A child who says he saw two state workers having sex in front of him and then was neglected and abused at an out-of-state facility is suing Oregon over its child welfare system.

In the lawsuit, attorney David L. Kramer, alleges on behalf of the child that even though there were foster parents willing to care for the boy, identified only as Y.G., the state instead put him in the Best Western Motel in Dallas, Oregon, ostensibly because they couldn’t find another place for him. While in the hotel, two Oregon child welfare workers in Polk County had sex in the bed next to him, the lawsuit claims.

Y.G. was raised in a Bulgarian orphanage through age 12. He was brought to Oregon for the purpose of being adopted, which fell through. He then became a ward of the state.

The now-15-year-old is described in the lawsuit as having “ongoing psychological, emotional, and behavioral challenges” stemming from his upbringing in the Bulgarian orphanage. Y.G. has been consistently denied Bulgarian interpreters to help him, according to the lawsuit, and he struggles to speak English.

After the hotel, Y.G. was placed in a juvenile detention center until he was sent out-of-state to be put “out of sight and out of mind,” according to the lawsuit. The state of Oregon had 88 foster youth in out of state facilities at the peak, but have brought many of the children home amid reports of neglect and abuse. There are still 32 foster children placed out of state.

Many of the foster youth were placed in a St. George, Utah, campus known as Red Rock Canyon School. The school was operated by Sequel Youth and Family Services, a private for-profit company.

“Through its contract with Red Rock, and the placement of Oregon children in Utah, DHS intended to minimize or all together avoid, its responsibilities to Oregon foster children,” the lawsuit says. “DHS completely deferred to Red Rock for the safety, care, treatment, and education of Oregon children.” 

While Y.G. was in Red Rock, he suffered from abuses, according to the lawsuit:

Red Rock hired staff who were not qualified to manage students.

Red Rock failed to do background checks of prospective staff, including at least one convicted felon Red Rock failed to adequately train and supervise staff to keep children safe

Red Rock failed to reasonably intervene and safely manage children, including groups of children, who were threatening and violent to other children

Red Rock permitted, or failed to reasonably prevent children from assaulting or physically restraining other children through the use of choke holds

Sequel Youth and Family Services owned or operated the bulk of facilities where Oregon sent foster youth.

The for-profit business is now looking to open in Oregon.

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Lauren Dake is a political reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. Before OPB, Lauren spent nearly a decade working as a print reporter. She’s covered politics and rural issues in Oregon and Washington.