Abused Girl’s Cremation Prompts Suit by Dad

     CHICAGO (CN) – A funeral home improperly cremated the remains of an abused 11-year-old whose death rocked her Illinois community, the girl’s father claims in court.
     After a blow to the stomach killed Raashanai Coley at age 11 in September 2014, the girl’s mother, Nicholette Lawrence, was charged with murder.
     The Chicago Tribune reported that the child’s 55-pound body was covered with scars and cigarette burns.
     Raashani lived with her mother and stepfather in Waukegan, Ill., and her Oregon-based biological father, Raashan Coley, claims in a May 1 complaint that no one informed him of the girl’s death until after the funeral.
     He brought the complaint in Lake County Court againsr Bradshaw & Range Funeral Home, Professional Corp., and Mt. Olive Memorial Park.
     Claiming that Raashani “was the victim of prolonged abuse and malnutrition,” Coley says he was the girl’s “only adult heir and next of kin … other than the accused murderer, her mother.”
     Coley was named as the father on Raashani’s death certificate, but the funeral home and cemetery made no attempt to him and seek permission before cremating Raashani’s remains, according to the nine-page complaint.
     The Chicago Tribune reported that Coley was in prison for the first 4 1/ 2 years of Rashanai’s life, and Lawrence prevented him from seeing the girl after his release.
     Police told the Tribune that Lawrence confessed to punching Raashani in the stomach and beating her with an extension cord two days before her death.
     Coley says the funeral home “should have known of his existence,” and that “there was a high probability that is conduct would cause severe emotional distress.”
     Claiming that he has been “deprived of the right to properly grieve for the death of his daughter,” Coley seeks damages for emotional distress, and interference with the right of a parent to preserve the body of their child.
     He is represented by Jeffrey Deutschman.
     Bradshaw & Range Funeral Home did not immediately return a request for comment.
     The Tribune predicted a delay to the start of Lawrence’s murder trial in March based on the assignment of a public defender to her case.
     That article said the Waukegan community held a block-wide bake sale last year to pay for Raashani’s funeral expenses.

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