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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
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Horrific Case of Child-Sex Abuse in New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, N.H. (CN) — Demanding damages from welfare authorities, a New Hampshire couple says the state's negligence caused their granddaughters to suffer "unfathomable, violent acts of sexual abuse."

Filed on Oct. 20 in Hillsborough County Superior Court, the suit outlines in explicit detail the abuse that two children suffered at the hands of their birth parents in late 2013. Identifying the girls only by their initials, the 22-page complaint says J.B. was 4 years old and N.B. was 18 months old at the time of the abuse.

Noting that the horrific abuse occurred during visits that were supposed to be supervised, the complaint says the state and Easter Seals opted to leave the children alone with their parents despite knowing that Claremont police were investigating the couple for sexually abusing children in a homeless shelter.

In justifying the unsupervised time, the state's Division of Children, Youth and Families later told police and grandmother T.C. "that they had to give these parents 'the opportunity to fail.'"

Failure is the minimal way to describe the allegations of the complaint, which says that the sexual abuse the children endured was both oral and anal, involving "vibrators, the father's genitalia, and restraints."

"Fourteen (14) of these sessions were videotaped by the biological mother," the complaint continues.

A spokeswoman for Easter Seals said the nonprofit would not say much about a pending legal matter.

"What we can say is that we are taking this matter very seriously and will cooperate with the authorities," spokeswoman Pamela Dube said in an email. "As an organization providing services to the community, we are committed to supporting children, adults and families every single day."

Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards had a similar statement. "We have received the lawsuit and are reviewing the pleadings and the case records," Edwards said. "These are very serious and disturbing claims that we will fully review before deciding how to proceed with this matter."

T.C. and her husband say the state gave them custody of the children back in July 2012 after police arrested the father for kicking N.B. across the living room.

When Easter Seals began supervising the visits that fall, the complaint says the charity's workers failed immediately to crack down on the early signs of abuse — such as J.B. reporting that she watched her father urinate, N.B. showing signs of severe diaper rash, and both children having bath time during "relatively short," and supposedly supervised, afternoon visits.

The grandparents say it was at this point that "N.B. developed a strong aversion to having her diaper changed."

Claremont police began investigating J.B. and N.B.'s biological parents in summer 2013 when the couple had been living at a homeless shelter, according to the complaint.

That September, the complaint says, J.B. and N.B.'s social worker received a copy of the police report, which described witness accounts of N.B. and J.B.'s biological touching the genitals of male and female children at the shelter, sometimes with his wife watching.

When J.B. and N.B.'s parents moved to an apartment of Claremont thereafter, according to the complaint, 4-year-old J.B. began coming home from visiting her parents with stubble because the couple were shaving her legs.

By late October or early November, J.B. and N.B.'s grandmother says she learned from the court-appointed guardian ad litem that the children's visits with their biological parents would now be unsupervised in part.

N.B. allegedly showed signs of a urinary tract infection on Nov. 13.

The grandmother says she immediately voiced her concern that "something else had happened," only to be brushed off by the social worker.

Despite having been given a copy of the police report, according to the complaint, this social worker "told T.C. that the biological parents are not bad parents and that 'we are going to get those girls back to their parents."

N.B. allegedly returned from a Nov. 20 visit with her parents "crying, holding her diaper area and saying 'Ow.'"

After waiting five days for the social worker to "look into it," the grandmother says she found J.B. rubbing a paintbrush against her vagina, just like "Mommy and Daddy" showed her.

The complaint says J.B. and N.B.'s biological parents confessed on Dec. 5 to performing and videotaping sexual acts on the girls.

To get the girls ready for their father to sodomize them, the mother allegedly admitted that she placed "lubricated vibrators into their anuses."

T.C. and her husband say the video recorded sex acts took place during the Nov. 13 and 20 unsupervised visits. J.B. and N.B.'s biological mother also admitted that her husband received oral sex from his 4-year-old when they had "bath times" during the previous visits Easter Seals was supposed to have supervised.

The couple were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to multiple counts of child-sexual abuse and production of child pornography.

Before bringing the suit, Bedford-based attorney Rus Rilee battled with New Hampshire authorities over unconstitutional prior restraint.

Rilee said his clients opted to sue the state in open court, over the objection of Attorney General Joseph Foster, to ensure greater accountability of the agency.

"The adoptive parents of N.B. and J.B. were determined to file a public lawsuit and to allow the press and the public access to the shocking and painful details of this case, while protecting the girls' anonymity and privacy, in order to shine a light on the complete failure of DCYF," Rilee told New Hampshire's Union Leader newspaper.

In a unanimous August ruling for the grandparents, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found it unconstitutional to make them file the suit as confidential with the pleadings under seal.

The court did agree with the state, however, that "any portions of the pleadings therein that derive from court records of the abuse and neglect case must be submitted under seal."

Rilee's suit comes after the deaths of two toddlers led Gov. Maggie Hassan to order an independent review of the state's DCYF, short for Division of Children, Youth and Families.

On Oct. 11, the Center for Support of Families released an interim report that shows a grossly understaffed agency that closed only 20 percent of child-assessment cases in the 60-day time period required by department policies.

Both staffing turnover and the caseloads for New Hampshire social workers far exceed national averages.

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