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CPS Responsible for Foster Death
August 9, 2007 permalink
Arizona CPS took Dustin Rhodes away from his mother and placed him with relatives as foster parents. In the habit of child protectors, they then ignored complaints of abuse committed by their own contractors. Dustin Rhodes ultimately died of abuse. Arizona juries decided not to blame the foster parents, but held the child protectors responsible for $1.5 million. It's about time.
CPS ordered to pay $1.5 million to mother in death of her son
A jury in Maricopa County Superior Court this week awarded $1.5 million to the mother of a 9-year-old Litchfield Park boy who died after Child Protective Services twice investigated suspicions of abuse but failed to remove the boy from his home.
Dustin Rhodes was living with his grandmother, aunt and aunt's boyfriend when he died in August 2003 of "multiple traumatic injuries," according to an autopsy report.
In 2005, the boy's mother, Christina Bowman, filed suit, claiming her son's life might have been spared had CPS fully investigated and removed Dustin from the home.
Bowman's attorney, Steve Copple, said the decision "gives some answers and some accountability" in the death.
"It was a four-year journey for Christina to try to find out why and who and how. So that decision was extremely important for her and, she felt, for Dustin," Copple said.
Spokeswomen for CPS and the Arizona Attorney General's Office declined to comment, saying the litigation is ongoing.
In February 2003, six months before the boy's death, his third-grade teacher reported unusual bruises on his back, waist, leg and eye.
Three months later, a physician examined other injuries, including a swollen face and bruises all over the boy's body.
She found the injuries may have been accidental, but recommended further investigation.
Dustin's parents were not involved in his life then.
His mother's attorney previously told The Arizona Republic that she had recovered from a drug problem and was trying to get her son back at the time.
The jury's verdict was a "very loud and specific acknowledgement of her loss," Copple said.
A related criminal case turned out differently.
Last month, the boy's extended family, including his grandmother Linda Rhodes; aunt, Bethany Pellerin; and the boyfriend, Ryan Pellerin, were acquitted on all counts of child abuse stemming from the incident.
"We expected ours to come out this way, but we didn't expect the other (case) to come out this way," Copple said.
Source: Arizona Republic