Mother settles lawsuit against Luzerne County Children and Youth Services

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
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WILKES-BARRE — A mother who sued Luzerne County Children and Youth Services over alleged abuse at a foster home has reached a settlement, a recent federal court filing says.

The suit, filed by a plaintiff identified as only M.J. to protect her and her children’s privacy, said the woman’s daughters were sexually abused while they were in foster care. The filing further accuses foster care officials of handling the situation improperly.

The suit also names the county, a supervisor, the foster care placement service and the foster parent as defendants.

A letter filed Tuesday by M.J.’s attorney, Shelley L. Centini, alerted U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo that an agreement had been reached between the parties.

“The defendants have made an offer to settle this case,” Centini wrote. “Plaintiffs have accepted defendants’ offer, and the parties are working together on preparing the necessary paperwork to effectuate settlement.”

According to the original suit:

M.J.’s two daughters, then 3 years old and 16 months, were living in Kathy Ryan’s three-bedroom trailer foster home in Ashley, beginning in 2014.

On visits, M.J. and her family noticed the girls were wearing dirty clothes, smelled like they hadn’t been bathed, and had bruises and burns.

In the spring of 2015, the older girl told M.J. she had been sexually abused by Ryan’s adopted son. M.J. also said she saw the older girl inappropriately touching the younger girl. Further reports came regarding Ryan’s son after M.J.’s cousin obtained kinship custody of the girls in August 2015.

The suit claimed M.J. spoke with Children and Youth caseworker Jesse Goshert about her concerns, along with foster placement agency Concern Inc., but neither did anything.

Tuesday’s letter does not detail the terms of the settlement. In the letter, Centini asks for the cancellation of a case management conference originally set for Aug. 27.

So far, a response from Judge Caputo has not been filed.

Previous reporting by the Times Leader suggests the girls currently live with their mother and have since August 2016.

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By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan