2 killed California boys illegally placed with foster parents

by Christopher Weber and Heaven Daily | The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — The biological mother of two young California boys who died in the state foster care system has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that her sons were taken from her illegally and were raised as foster parents. -was placed with the father, who is now accused of killing him.

Four-year-old Classic Pettus and 3-year-old Sincere Pettus were reported missing from their foster family’s backyard in the desert city of California on December 21, 2020. The boys, who were black, have not been found and Kern County prosecutors said in March that an investigation determined they were dead.

The foster parents, Trezel West and Jacqueline West, have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including two counts of second-degree murder. His criminal trial is set to begin next month.

The civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit filed on June 17 by the boys’ birth mother, Ryan Dean, and grandmother, Dana Moorer, names West as defendants along with Kern County Human Services and the California Department of Social Services.

It alleges that the foster home was a “state-made menace” that led to the death and death of two boys. The lawsuit seeks $40 million in monetary damages.

“I feel like I didn’t deserve it,” Dean said at a San Francisco press conference on Tuesday. “I am not a criminal. My record is not bad.”

Plaintiff’s attorney Walken Q. McCoy said Congress intends to try to preserve family units with the Family First Act 2018, overturning the notion that foster care is better for children.

McCoy said, “Sincere and Classic Pettus were murdered after being illegally taken from their mothers as a result of an outdated foster care model, which Congress used as a perverse incentive to separate African American families.” was described.”

McCoy said that prior to the 2018 law the foster care system subjected African American families to a “trauma victimized child abuse investigation.”

Kern County Human Services Information Officer Janna Slag said the department was unable to comment on the lawsuit because of a court order. The state agency said in an email that it was unable to comment on the litigation.

According to the suit, the older child was taken from his biological parents after he was hospitalized in 2016. The court filing said Dean had returned from work to find the 3-month-old baby “crying uncontrollably” and when he brought her to the emergency room it was determined she had broken two legs. According to the lawsuit, the biological father, Charles Pettus, said that he gave his son two baths that day and nothing happened.

A hospital staff member informed the dean that Kern County Human Services would take the child because “they believed she was abused,” the lawsuit alleges. According to the filing, when the child was taken out of her care, Dean had no criminal record and there were no allegations of abuse against her.

After Dean gave birth to another son in June 2017, a sheriff’s deputy took her in because human services officials said they “prefer to keep siblings together,” the lawsuit states.

After spending months with a foster family, the boys were paired with West in late 2018. At this point, Dean said she began to notice that her children were losing weight and the little boy had bruises on his face, the claim said.

“In November 2018, Ms. Dean wrote a letter expressing concern about the lack of proper care her children are receiving in foster care in West. No one ever responded to the letter,” the lawsuit said. The filing said that Dean’s mother, Moorer, also filed a request to place the children in her care, which was ignored.

McCoy said that Moorer also completed parenting classes and psychological reviews in an attempt to get her grandchildren but was denied.

The lawsuit states that state and county officials negligently placed the brothers in West’s care, “so as to directly and proximately cause the death of the minor children.” The filing said officials rejected requests from the biological mother and grandmother to reunite with the children before they were killed.

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