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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Abused Girls Take on Jewish Foster Agency

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - An agency dedicated to serving Jewish foster children turned a blind eye as two sisters suffered years of sexual abuse, they claim in Federal Court.

Now women in their 20s, K.D. and L.C. say they were placed with Bruce Castelow and his wife in 1996 and 1998, respectively.

Castelow began molesting K in January 1997, about five months into her placement, according to the federal complaint filed Thursday.

She was just 8 1/2, and the abuse continued for two years. L was 4 when she was placed with her sister, and Castelow began molesting her within a few weeks, the complaint states.

For K, the first of what became weekly abusive encounters occurred when Castelow invited her to watch television in his bedroom, according to the complaint.

The Castelows wound up adopting K in 2000.

K says she informed Castelow's wife of the behavior, but that the foster mother told her that any accusations would sent the Castletows both to prison and that K would be sent to another home "where they would abuse and lock her in a dog cage."

The complaint says a neighbor sent an anonymous letter to Jewish Family and Children's Services of Greater Philadelphia and the city Department of Human Services, the two agencies responsible for the children's' placement, informing them of the abuse.

K and L say the agencies did not conduct private visits with the children, however, preventing them from speaking candidly about the regular abuse.

When K was in eighth grade in 2002, she wrote an essay for submission to the popular book series "Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul," and asked that a teacher review it. The essay detailed child abuse in an adoptive home, and K told the teacher that the girl in the essay was her, according to the complaint.

The girls were placed in a new home, and they say Castelow was convicted of corrupting minors and indecent assault of K, plus child endangerment of L, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges systemic failures on the parts of the agencies, including not privately speaking with the children and failing to "adequately train and supervise its employees and agents."

K and L claim violation of a special relationship, negligence, state-created danger and emotional distress. They are represented by Frank Guarrieri of Curtin & Heefner in Doylestown.

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