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Six Kids Neglected by Florida Foster Care

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May 24


They are five brothers and their sister who stuck together in the face of what is described as almost perverse cruelty, without an adult in sight to save them.

“I used to think in my mind, ‘I wish I was dead so I didn’t have to be in this stupid place,'” says Joey, now 14.

He describes life in the home of Jacqueline Lynch, who collected $150,000 as a foster mother, even though one of her own children had previously been taken away from her by the state of Florida because of allegations of physical and sexual abuse in her home.

“They hit us with their hands,” says Jordan, 14. “Or with a belt,” adds Suzanna.

Now safe and adopted into a loving home, the six kids — 15-year-old Jesse, twin brothers Jordan and Joey, freckle-faced Toby and another set of twins, Suzanna and Robbie — are for the first time telling their story. Their words are a damning indictment of the state officials who took them away from their biological mother, an alcoholic, and left them unchecked for months at a time in the hands of strangers.

“These children were tortured. These children were neglected. These children were abused,” says Howard Talenfeld, a family-rights attorney. “What happened to these children was inhumane.”

‘No Teddy Bears’

Talenfeld says officials of Florida’s Department of Children and Families simply ignored Lynch’s background when placing the children in her care.

“Time after time the bells went off that this was a dangerous home,” he says. “One of her children was taken and two were under protective supervision.”

At one point, Talenfeld says, Lynch actually fled the state’s jurisdiction in order to avoid the department. “There had been a statewide alert put out,” he says; and yet, “when she came back, they licensed her and her husband as foster parents.”

For almost two years, no state caseworker ever came to inspect the Lynch home — about a 20-minute drive from the state offices — even though there are supposed to be visits once a month.

What a caseworker would have found by simply walking in the house was the small, barren room where the six children say they spent most of their time locked up.

“Most of the time we slept on the floor,” says Toby. “You’d wake up in the middle of the night shivering. It was really cold.”

For Suzanna, it was not the climate that was most appalling: “Cockroaches came out of the ground of the wall and out of the vents, and it scared me a lot.”

According to Talenfeld, the kids were fed out of one bowl, while they sat on their knees. “Sometimes they were forced to eat their own vomit,” he says.

And the children say that once were locked in, they had no access to a bathroom.

“We’d have to wait until the morning,” says Jordan — unless they couldn’t wait. “Then, you’d just go.”

Almost every day after school this was their world, like a jail cell with no furniture, no place to do homework, nothing to play with.

“No teddy bears at all,” says Suzanna.

Police Respond After Five Years

Even after the state received reports from a school and a court-appointed guardian about possible abuse, the caseworkers continued to file reports with “nothing but high praise” for the Lynches, saying they were “excellent foster parents” who provided “a secure, loving home.”

If they had asked the children, they might have heard a different story, tales of frequent, painful beatings.

“When they hit us, they said, ‘It’s your fault because you’re retarded,'” says Jordan.

Written by dawneworswick

November 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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