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Abuse Reported in Faith-|Based Foster Home

TUCSON (CN) - A faith-based foster home ignored the repeated sexual abuse of a 10-year-old girl by a teenager, the girl's mother claims in court.

Jane Doe, her 8-year-old brother and her mother sued Gap Ministries and its owners Greg and Pam Ayers on Oct. 8 in Pima County Superior Court.

Also sued are the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Child Protective Services (CPS) and several state employees.

The state took 10-year-old Jane Doe from her mother in August 2013 and placed her in one of Gap Ministries' "Splash House" group homes, where she was the only girl, and with her 8-year-old brother, one of the youngest residents in a home full of teenage boys with histories of "violent behavior and sexual abuse," according to the lawsuit.

Gap Ministries is licensed through the state to provide foster care for up to 130 children. It operates 14 group homes in Tucson.

Jane's mother claims in the lawsuit that she learned of the sexual abuse during a weekly visit in September 2013.

Jane "informed her mother that she had been sexually abused and attacked by ... a 13-year-old boy at the home," the complaint states. "Plaintiff told her mother that she was afraid of the older boy, that he was twice as big as she was, and that the sexual abuse had been ongoing. Plaintiff told her mother that the group home did nothing to protect her and didn't really pay attention."

The mother says she reported the abuse on a state hotline and in an email to her CPS case specialist, but nothing was done and the abuse continued.

"Defendants knew the abuse was continuing, and documented it in the CPS action requests dated October 3, 2013 and October 9, 2013, yet failed to call the police and acted with gross negligence and deliberate indifference by failing to remove the offender or the plaintiffs, by failing to monitor the situation, and by doing nothing to protect the plaintiff from additional sexual abuse," the complaint states.

Finally the mother called the police herself after her daughter complained again. The boy was arrested, charged with felony sexual abuse and removed from the foster home, according to the complaint.

But officials failed to inform the school he attended, with Jane and her brother, so the boy "continued to threaten and make life unsafe for the children at school," the lawsuit states.

The Does seek punitive damages for negligence, civil rights violations, breach of fiduciary duty and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

They are represented by Lynne Cadigan and Clifford Altfeld in Tucson.

Gap Ministries did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

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