Lawyers have sued Florida child welfare administrators for negligence on behalf of a 9-year-old boy who was almost killed by his own father during a deadly SWAT standoff in Deerfield Beach in 2012.
The 24-page lawsuit was filed on Monday against the Department of Children and Families and four other privately run foster care agencies under contract with DCF. It states that they had been aware of the family problems since 2007, ever since a domestic incident between the mother, Deanna Beauchamp De Jesus, and father, William De Jesus.
The suit claims that the next year, the agency was notified again after reports that the father was molesting his two sons.
The suit was filed by the Fort Lauderdale law firm Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinksy, Abate & Webb, where several children's rights attorneys discussed it at a news conference Tuesday.
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“This case is just another example of the department’s continually refusing to acknowledge and investigate red flags that come up in these cases time and time again,” attorney Joel Fass said.
In an Aug. 6, 2009 report, a foster mother told a DCF representative that the younger son kept saying, “Monster Jackson is going to kill me and he’s coming back to get you.” But when the representative asked “who is Monster Jackson?” the child demurred, smiling and saying, “I don’t know."
The boys were put in foster care but returned with their parents in 2010 despite the previous incidents.
Then in February 2012, the younger boy, then 7, was left in critical condition in after his father nearly stabbed him to death. His older autistic brother, who was 9 at the time, died after the attack.
Deanna De Jesus was sentenced to 10 years in prison for doing nothing to intervene during her husband’s stabbings.
During the attack William De Jesus also killed a Canadian snowbird and held the man’s wife hostage in a Highland Woods RV.
During a six-hour standoff with police, authorities say they communicated with William De Jesus by phone early on, trying to get him to surrender peacefully, but communications stopped.
By the time SWAT officers entered the RV, William De Jesus and his older son were dead and his wife and younger son were badly wounded, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said in 2012.
The suit says that after the 2012 incident, the DCF said it had acted correctly.
DCF had told NBC 6 that there wasn't enough evidence to meet the “very high burden of proof” required to permanently remove the children from their parents.
They said the agency had no physical evidence, and it was difficult to get clear statements from the two children, including the older son, who barely spoke.
A former attorney for the boy who survived, said that Deanna De Jesus won’t be allowed to see the boy again, and that he was expected to be adopted by “a loving family.”