Booth & Koskoff Obtain $10 Million Settlement in Sexual Abuse Case

The civil suit against the county has resulted in significant changes for Riverside Child Protective Services (“CPS”)

This month, the law firm Booth & Koskoff settled a lawsuit against the County of Riverside for $10 million on behalf of their client, Jacquelyn H. This settlement is one of the largest in the state’s history for a single victim of sexual abuse. The civil suit (Riverside County Superior Court case no. MCC1701255) has also resulted in significant changes for Riverside Child Protective Services (“CPS”).

According to the lawsuit, Jacquelyn was 11-years-old in 2014 when she first disclosed to a teacher that she was the victim of sexual assault. The perpetrator was her mother’s live-in boyfriend. The teacher reported this abuse to both the police and CPS, which resulted in both entities conducting investigations. In response, Jacquelyn’s mother obtained a restraining order against perpetrator, who then disappeared, allegedly fleeing to Mexico. Riverside CPS closed the file shortly after purportedly finding the allegations to be “inconclusive.”

Four months later, according to the lawsuit, Riverside CPS returned to the home to investigate a domestic violence report and discovered that the perpetrator had returned and the mother had dismissed the restraining order against him. Instead of opening a new investigation into sexual abuse and notifying the police of the perpetrator’s whereabouts, the CPS social worker chose to draft a “safety plan” that provided that the children could stay in the home if the mother agreed not to leave them alone with the perpetrator and if the perpetrator (identified as a “caregiver” of the children) agreed not to leave the children alone with their mother until her mental health improved.

In 2016, Jacquelyn was found to be seven months pregnant, and a paternity test confirmed that the perpetrator was the father. According to the lawsuit, Jacquelyn had endured near daily sexual assaults during the two and half years between CPS’ initial investigation in 2014 and her pregnancy being discovered in 2016.

Booth & Koskoff filed suit against the County of Riverside for its failure to cross-report its reasonable suspicion of sexual abuse to law enforcement when it learned that the perpetrator had returned to the home. The $10 million payout was not the only result of the suit. Press reports have indicated that Riverside County has made significant changes to the leadership and procedures of its Department of Public Social Services at least in part in response to Jacquelyn’s case.

News coverage about the events and changes being made in Riverside CPS:

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