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Smithfield man sues county CYS
Smithfield man sues county CYS
By Jennifer Harr, Herald-Standard
Updated 06/17/2008 12:29:56 AM EDT
A Smithfield man has sued Fayette County Children and Youth Services on
Monday, claiming that the agency had no right to remove his children -
ages 5, 6 and 8 - from him in 2006.
A caseworker took the children from the 29-year-old man's home during an
investigation into his relationship with a 16-year-old girl who
sometimes baby-sat the children.
The man, referred to as John Doe in the suit, and the 16-year-old,
identified only as K.K., both told a CYS caseworker that they waited
until she was 16 to have a physical relationship, according to the suit,
filed in federal court in Pittsburgh. The age of consent in Pennsylvania
Also filed was a request for a temporary restraining order that would
return Doe's children to him.
The suit, filed by American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania
attorney Sara Rose, indicated the man never was accused of abusing his
own children, and asks a judge to order their immediate return.
"My kids are my whole life and I just want them back," Doe is quoted as
saying in an ACLU-issued press release about the suit.
Rose said that CYS "abused its power to place children in state custody
by removing these children from their father, even though the children
never have been abused and are in no danger of abuse.
"As a result, Doe has had no contact with his children for almost a
year, and has not lived with his children for almost two years. That is
time with his children that he will never get back," Rose said.
The children have lived with Doe's parents since September 2006, and Doe
has had no communication with them since August 2007.
"Even parents convicted of abusing their children often are allowed more
contact with their children than plaintiff," Rose contended in the suit.
According to the filing, Doe got involved with K.K. in 2006, after she
K.K. also acted as a baby sitter for the Doe children, according to the
complaint, and Doe and K.K. have known one another "for a number of
years through family connections."
The suit indicated that Doe and K.K. "deliberately waited" until K.K.
turned 16 to initiate a sexual relationship because they called the
Crime Victims Center of Fayette County to inquire about the age of
consent in Pennsylvania.
K.K.'s mother found out about the relationship and called police in
September 2006, Rose indicated.
"The police declined to press charges against plaintiff because engaging
in a consensual sexual relationship with a 16-year-old is not a crime
under Pennsylvania law," Rose wrote.
The legal standards that police and CYS apply to cases differ.
K.K.'s mother also contacted CYS, the suit alleged, and a caseworker
initiated an investigation. During that investigation, they both
admitted to having a sexual relationship after K.K. turned 16, according
to the complaint.
In November 2006, a letter from CYS informed Doe that the agency had
determined there was "substantial evidence" that he sexually abused K.K.
Doe appealed in January 2007, the suit indicated. The state Department
of Public Welfare heard the appeal in November 2007, and has not yet
rendered a decision.
The suit indicated a caseworker called Doe on Sept. 22, 2006, and asked
if there was anywhere his three children could stay during a 60-day CYS
investigation into the investigations into the allegations that he
If there was nowhere for the children to stay, the caseworker told Doe
that they would have to go into foster care, the suit alleged.
Doe sent the children to stay with his parents, according to the suit.
He was allowed supervised visits by CYS, the suit indicated, and visited
with them daily until Aug. 1, 2007.
That day, another caseworker came to Doe's parents' home with two state
troopers and said she believed he was having unsupervised visits with
That caseworker threatened to remove the Doe children unless plaintiff's
mother signed a plan that forbade Doe's parents from allowing the
children to have any contact with the plaintiff, the suit alleged.
Neither caseworker told Doe or his mother what their rights were, Rose
On Aug. 2, 2007, a third caseworker told Doe's mother that he could not
talk to his children unless he completed a sex-offender treatment program.
Doe indicated in the suit that he attended one sex-offender class, but
stopped after learning that one of the requirements was admitting that
he was a perpetrator of sexual abuse.
"Plaintiff refuses to state that he is a perpetrator of sexual abuse, as
he disputes defendants' claim that his relationship with K.K.
constituted sexual abuse under the law and contests defendants'
contention that he is a perpetrator as that term is defined in the Child
Protective Services Act," the suit stated.
The suit indicated that CYS closed the case and indicated that it is the
agency's policy that because Doe is believed to be a sexual abuser that
he cannot have any contact with his children.
Doe, according to the suit, is the children's' legal guardian since June
2005, when he and their mother separated. Their mother has been a
psychiatric patient at Torrance State Hospital in Torrance since
U.S. District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose has been assigned the case.
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