State agency responds to planned lawsuit in child sex abuse case
BATON ROUGE - Civil rights attorney Ben Crump plans to file a lawsuit against the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) over a child trafficking case.
"It's documented. You can look at it, them screaming out for help. And continuously telling people that 'we're being abused.' Help us," said Crump.
The WBRZ Investigative Unit reported on the missteps of the agency to help protect a child in DCFS care from alleged sexual abuse of accused suspect John Mack.
Louisiana State Police arrested Mack on charges in Jefferson Parish, and the 76-year-old faces felony charges in Livingston Parish of rape and sexual battery.
"These two little black girls who was the victim to this white man and his accomplices, whether that be the people that participated in these sex parties, who helped traffic them from here to New Orleans and back and forth, or those who were complicit in the conspiracy to cover this up," said Crump.
Due to political ties, Livingston Parish District Attorney Scott Perrilloux recused himself from handling the prosecution of the suspect's charges in Livingston Parish.
A guardian of one of the girls says DCFS did nothing for a decade, despite repeated pleas for help. State senator Katrina Jackson went so far as to call it a cover-up.
Now, that guardian is demanding accountability.
"We want to protect all children but I want the people that hurt these girls to be held accountable. Every last one of them, held accountable," said LaToyia Porter.
"To make sure that this child was heard, and make sure justice is not only served with Mr. John Mack but those who did not follow up on the complaints. And the department of children and family services, we believe, should be held accountable for never following up on those complaints," said Baton Rouge NAACP President, Eugene Collins.
DCFS issued a statement saying:
"We welcome the attention that this case is getting, and we join in the outrage that people feel about what has happened to this young woman.
"This is especially troubling to our child welfare staff, who have dedicated their careers to advancing the safety and well-being of Louisiana's children.
"As soon as I was notified about the case involving this child, I launched an internal review to examine the facts and the need to strengthen our processes and procedures.
"We have been working with the Child Welfare League of America to determine the best way to do an independent audit of this case by Child Welfare experts. We want to have a full and complete understanding of this case, and we want to be able to identify any weaknesses in our system and correct them.
"In addition, we are cooperating fully and willingly with the Office of Inspector General and look forward to any recommendations they may have. Our internal review found no evidence of a cover up on the part of our staff. However, should the OIG's investigation find otherwise, we'll take swift action. We investigate cases on behalf of child safety regardless of who's connected to a case.
"We cannot comment on litigation. In addition, state law prevents DCFS from publicly discussing the specifics of this case – any case – to protect the privacy of the child and the child's family. We'll continue to honor that."