The Associated Press | Posted: Monday, May 19, 2014 12:48 pm
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The state of Alaska has agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit filed by man who claims he was placed into the adoptive care of an abusive couple.
Thomas Joseph White, 20, reached the settlement in the case filed against the state Office of Children's Services, the Anchorage Daily News (http://bit.ly/1o7Bg4j ) reported Saturday.
White told the newspaper he wants his story told to make sure other neglected children do not suffer in the system.
"They could have done a lot better, actually," White said of the Office of Children's Services and its predecessor, the Division of Family and Youth Services.
The state did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement.
The abuse was revealed in 2004, three years after state oversight ended, Christy Lawton, director of the Office of Children's Services, said by email.
"The only lesson to be learned was that OCS does not have a crystal ball that will perfectly predict the future," she wrote.
Sherry Kelley was convicted of assault and criminal nonsupport. Patrick Kelley was convicted of child endangerment. Both were jailed for 17 months.
White first needed state protection in 1993 as the 2-month-old son of a cocaine addict, the newspaper said. In July 2000, the Kelleys made him their fifth adopted child.
His aunt, Betsy Golan, claimed she saw signs of abuse during a visit in May 2001, including locks on the outside of his bedroom door and a bucket used for a toilet in his bedroom. Lawton said the office had no record of complaints by Golan.
The family moved from Anchorage to a compound between Big Lake and Wasilla, and the children were put to work, White said. They did not go to school and were not educated at home, he said.
White claims the children were beaten and older children in the family were forced to sleep outside.
In February 2004, White said, he was ordered outside for the night. He slept near a fire and woke with his clothes on fire. He suffered third-degree burns that he said were treated with rubbing alcohol.
He lost the tip of a finger to frostbite and ate dog food but not regular meals, he said.
His adoptive grandfather in July 2004 called Alaska State Troopers and said he feared White might die.
Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.adn.com
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