MONTPELIER — A lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Vermont Department for Children and Families alleges that social workers failed to act on reports of abuse and neglect of two Ludlow children for four years until local police intervened.
Brattleboro lawyers Tom Costello and Sharon Gentry provided copies of the suit and other documents to The Associated Press as it was being filed in Windsor Superior Court.
The suit alleges that a 12-year-old boy and his 11-year-old sister living with their father, stepmother and several disabled adults frequently had to sleep on the floor, were repeatedly physically abused, and were exposed to inappropriate sexual activity in the home. The suit alleges the children were so poorly fed that the boy would ask to do the dishes so he could eat scraps from the plates. It says the boy was kept locked in a room much of the time.
According to the lawsuit, the department’s Springfield office began getting reports from the children’s grandparents of likely abuse in 2008. The department opened a case in 2010, but the children’s troubles intensified during the next two years before they were removed from the home, according to the lawsuit.
DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone said Wednesday he could not comment on the lawsuit or cases involving juveniles. The lawsuit comes as the department has been under the spotlight following the deaths of two toddlers whose families had been under its supervision.
According to the lawsuit, the grandparents told the state agency that the children were not being properly bathed and their clothes were filthy and that the children often spoke of being beaten with hands, shoes and a backscratcher.
The lawsuit also alleges the couple, Richard and Krista Hudson, kept the disabled adults against their will to collect Social Security and other benefits. Ludlow police began investigating allegations of abuse of vulnerable adults in March 2012. Their attention turned to include the children, who were removed from the home by May of that year.
Krista Hudson later pleaded guilty to abusing both her children and the adults. She is serving a three-to-eight-year prison sentence. Richard Hudson struck a plea deal in which he agreed to testify against his wife for a shorter sentence. Gentry said he was released from prison this month.
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