Molested Former Wards Awarded Millions in Damages

Molested Former Wards Awarded Millions in Damages

Fourteen adults are suing a Child Care home for sexual abuse they claim they suffered when they were residents there decades ago.

A jury awarded the first two women, Nancy Deutsch and Sharon Mohr-McDermott, $1.9 and $1.6 million in damages, finding that the home knew, or should have known the girls were being abused, and failed to prevent it, or discipline the abusers.

The plaintiffs – fourteen men and women – are accusing Masonic Homes of California’s Covina facility of housing 11 sexual predators who allegedly molested children there from the late 1960s to the late 1980’s. The abuse included fondling and intercourse.

The executive vice president of the Masonic Homes of California, Deborah Stebbins, said the home had difficulty defending itself because the abuse happened so long ago, but new state laws allow for an exception to the statute of limitations (laws limiting the amount of time after an incident a person can sue) in certain abuse cases.

One of the attorneys, Graham LippSmith, who represents the former wards, said the home portrayed itself as a safe haven for children from troubled family backgrounds. But “it ended up being as bad or even worse than where they were before,” said LippSmith.

He continued to say that part of the problem was the lax screening of potential employees. Stebbins said that they have rigorous background checks now, but LippSmith said that they used to hire anyone who responded to newspaper ads.

“There were some people who were qualified, with degrees and a serious interest in helping children,” LippSmith said. “But with the rotating door on people being employed in this kind of place, you’ll let in some people who are predators.”

In the end, the home was an “environment of neglect” where abuse went unchecked, said LippSmith.

According to LippSmith, the two girls were molested at the ages of 7 and 8 by Earl Pearson, a husband of one of the girls’ house-parents. Pearson would go into the girls’ rooms at night under the pretense of tucking them in, but would stay and molest them, LippSmith said.

Pearson would also hold the girls on his lap while he read to them and put his hand in their pants, according to the lawsuit. This went on for longer than a year.

The Jury found Masonic Homes responsible for maintaining an environment that allowed abuse.

The two victims suffer from psychological problems resulting from their abuse at the home, their attorney claims.

Victim of abuse? Please contact us today for a FREE consultation with an understanding and experienced personal injury attorney who can uphold your legal rights and help you recover the compensation you may be entitled to.

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