child abuse

YAKIMA, WA - 12-year-old twin girls are suing the state of Washington after they were removed from a stable foster home and returned to their drug-addicted mother, who then tortured, isolated, and starved them for years.

Twin girls AJ and MJ are suing the State of Washington, Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), alleging that social workers negligently removed them from a loving and safe foster home, where they had lived from birth to age 7, and placed them in the home of their drug-addicted physically abusive biological mother.

DCYF took the twins from their mother at birth due to her drug use while pregnant. The twin girls were born affected by the drugs and alcohol that their mother consumed during pregnancy. They were placed in a stable home and stayed there for 7 years; that home being the only home they had known when DCYF placed the twins back with their biological mother despite her repeatedly saying she wanted to relinquish her parental rights and despite her failure to complete drug and alcohol rehabilitation and safe parenting programs.

After being placed with their biological mother at age 7, DCYF failed to check on their health and safety. In their mother's home they were isolated in one room and forced to live in the dark. They were starved, forced to urinate and defecate on the floor, and not allowed to attend school. After several months in the home with no health and safety checks by social workers, a family member found them weighing 44 pounds, half of their normal body weight, laying in their own feces in the dark and begging for food and water.

Their mother was convicted of two counts of third degree assault of a child and two counts of first degree criminal mistreatment as a result of the abuse and torture of her children and is serving 10 years in prison for those convictions.

According to Tamaki Law attorney Bryan G. Smith, "This is the worst case of child abuse and neglect I have ever seen in my 20 years of representing children in these situations. What my clients' mother did was not just abuse and neglect - it was torture under any definition. These social workers completely let my clients down and failed to protect them. As a result, they will be forced to live with physical and emotional trauma for the rest of their lives. We are hopeful that by bringing this lawsuit the state will be forced to make changes to ensure that this kind of neglect by social workers never happens again."

According to Tamaki Law attorney Vito de la Cruz, "It is outrageous that the STate removed these beautiful twin girls from a loving, stable, nurturing foster home where they were thriving and returned them to their drug-addicted, wholly uncaring mother. These little girls' mother didn't want to parent them, didn't know how to parent them, and she expressed this to state social workers and agents on several occasions. That they survived forced starvation, physical abuse, and unspeakable humiliation is a miracle."

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