Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Okrent has entered judgment on a $3 million jury verdict awarded to Dearie Law Group client A.K., a victim of child sexual abuse, against the State of Washington, Department of Children, Youth, and Families (formerly DSHS).
The jury verdict was the result of a three-week trial in A.K. v. State of Washington, DSHS, et al., No. 19-2-01825-31, in which the State denied any responsibility for its employee’s failure to make a mandatory report. Instead, the State claimed its employee had nothing to report and blamed the victim, necessitating a trial according to Raymond Dearie and Drew Lombardi of the Dearie Law Group, legal counsel for the victim, A.K.
“This tragic case comes down to a Child Protective Services employee’s failure to simply do her job,” said Dearie. “Her whole job description revolved around the protection of children from abuse, but somehow the CPS Investigator forgot how to do her job. If the CPS Investigator would have done the bare minimum, my client would not have been forced to endure years of abuse and emotional distress.”
A.K.’s legal counsel argued to the jury that the CPS Investigator had ample information requiring her to make a mandatory report alleging that A.K. was being sexually abused by former Monroe Police Department Sergeant Carlos Martinez. The abusive relationship stemmed from events almost 20 years ago when A.K. was a student at Monroe Junior High School.
One week before the civil trial began, A.K.’s attorneys uncovered a tape-recorded interview of the CPS Investigator, who admitted that she was “one hundred percent sure something physically was going on between them.” As Mr. Dearie explained, this was “a true smoking gun situation.”
The CPS Investigator never made a mandatory report, possibly due to a conflict of interest. During the trial, multiple witnesses testified that they believed the CPS Investigator was having an affair with Martinez.
As a result of the failure to make a mandatory report, A.K. was abused by Martinez for approximately seven years.
Dearie and Lombardi added that they “thank the members of the jury for following the law and holding the State responsible for its systemic failure.” They further added: “We hope this verdict will finally allow A.K. to move forward with her life and motivate the State to make systemic corrections to ensure that this never happens again.”
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