A youth residential facility in Montgomery County has agreed to pay an additional $4.6 million to three Philadelphia sisters stemming from a lawsuit that accused it of negligently reuniting one of the girls with a father who repeatedly assaulted and sexually abused them.
The settlement, reached over the weekend with Carson Valley Children’s Aid, follows a $6 million settlement last week with Turning Points for Children, a Center City-based child welfare agency, in a similar lawsuit that focused on the two other girls.
Both organizations, which operate under contracts with Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services, had sought to settle the cases confidentially. The Inquirer identified them through court records.
Carson Valley said Monday that it had been unaware of the father’s abuse, while Turning Points has declined to discuss how the girls’ case was handled.
The girls’ father is serving a 37-year prison sentence in central Pennsylvania after he was convicted in 2018 of sexually abusing them.
In the latest settlement, Carson Valley, located on a sprawling campus in Flourtown, returned one of the sisters, then 15 years old, to her father’s custody in 2016 without ensuring her safety, according to attorney Nadeem Bezar, who represents the three sisters.
“The facility had a responsibility to check where my client was going on unsupervised visits with the bad dad,” said Bezar, who declined to identify the residential facility, in accordance with the settlement agreement. “You’ve got a 15-year-old girl that you’re dropping off at an address where you don’t even know if there is a house or an apartment there, who lives there, and who’s coming or going. It just seems dangerous on so many different fronts.”
The girl had been removed from her father’s custody in 2015 at the age of 13 following a report that he sexually assaulted her and had instructed her to participate in the sexual abuse of his ex-girlfriend, according to the lawsuit. He was also accused of beating his children with extension cords.
The girl lived in foster care for several months, before being transferred in 2016 to Carson Valley, which provides behavioral and mental health treatment.
The father, whom The Inquirer is not naming to protect the identity of his daughters, had sexually assaulted the sisters over a four-year period — both before he lost custody and after Turning Points and Carson Valley reunited them with him, according to the lawsuits.
Diane Kiddy, CEO of Carson Valley, said in a statement Monday that her organization “provided court-ordered services to one of the sisters for a short period of time and had minimal input into the decision to reunify her with the father.
“We are appalled by the facts as they have come to light, and had no knowledge of them beforehand,” Kiddy said. “It is our hope that with the settlement, this young woman will get the support needed to overcome the trauma she has endured.”
Last week, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, said it was not aware of the allegations against Turning Points until being contacted by The Inquirer. The department, which provides oversight for each county’s child welfare agencies, said it would investigate.
City Council members are also demanding answers about how the girls’ case was mishandled.
A Turning Points official said in a statement last week that the incident “weighs heavily” on the nonprofit. It has not provided details about any changes it might have made since the placement.
“Our job is to keep the children in our care safe,” the statement read. “When that doesn’t happen, our duty is to work diligently to determine where changes may help ensure the care and safety of those we serve and mitigate future challenges.”
Bezar, the girls’ attorney, said several Turning Points caseworkers and supervisors had been involved with the case, which may have led to miscommunications and a failure to conduct a court-ordered psychosexual evaluation of the father before sending two of the girls back to him.