Foster Care Sexual Assault and Abuse

Foster children are 10 times more likely to be sexually abused than children who live with both biological parents, according to a 2010 federal government study. With the average caseload for child welfare/foster care caseworkers consisting of 24 to 31 children, many vulnerable children fall through the cracks and become victims in a system that was intended to protect them.

High-profile Pennsylvania foster care and abuse cases that recently grabbed headlines include:

  • Matt Sandusky, the adopted son of former Penn State Assistant Coach, Jerry Sandusky, was initially placed in Sandusky’s home as a foster child. Jerry Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child abuse involving 10 boys. Just before the jury began its deliberations, Matt Sandusky came out publicly as a victim. Over the years, Jerry Sandusky foster parented multiple children.
  • In 2016, 14-year-old Grace Packer was raped, killed, and dismembered by her adopted mother, Sara Packer, and her boyfriend, Jacob Sullivan. Sara Packer and her previous husband, David Packer, cared for 30 foster children, including Grace, over the course of 10 years. In 2011, David Packer pleaded guilty to indecent assault involving Grace and statutory sexual assault of another foster daughter. Sara Packer was not charged, but her name was placed on Childline, a clearinghouse of people involved in abuse cases.

While most foster parents love children and would never sexually assault or abuse a child, unfortunately, the reality of too few caseworkers for too many children allows dangerous individuals to sometimes slip into the foster care system.

When a child is victimized by a foster parent, the criminal justice system will deal with the perpetrator, hopefully by convicting and incarcerating him or her. However, the child is often left with devastating psychological―and sometimes physical―injuries, for which the only redress is a civil lawsuit for financial compensation. Beyond the director perpetrator, that lawsuit can target the foster care agency for failure to properly screen the foster parent and to ensure the safety of the child entrusted to its care.

Proving sexual assault and abuse cases requires not only legal experience, but also rigorous investigation and expertise from professionals who can assess whether a foster care agency’s policies, practices, and procedures enabled the perpetrator. Other necessary experts may include forensic pediatricians, and pediatric psychologists and psychiatrists.

We have the financial resources to retain appropriate investigators and experts in all necessary disciplines, so we can establish the underlying facts of these incidents―which often cause shame, humiliation, trauma, and psychological injuries that last a lifetime. And because we have decades of experience bringing sexual predators to justice, we get maximum financial compensation for our clients.

We’re Here to Help You

Foster care agencies do not always timely detect, investigate, and stop sexual assault and abuse. Child predators who masquerade as foster parents can sexually assault and abuse multiple children over many years. Contact us immediately.

We fight so you’ll receive justice and compensation for your psychological and physical injuries and other losses by holding all culpable parties accountable. Foster agencies are over-burdened by cumbersome caseloads that are frequently handled by new, inexperienced, and underpaid caseworkers. Children are falling through the cracks. Contact us to find out whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.

We immediately evaluate your case so you know the status.

We’re highly experienced at handling sexual assault and abuse cases involving foster care, and can efficiently review your case, in conjunction with our multidisciplinary team of experts. If your case is right for us, we’ll proceed with a full investigation and evaluation of the facts and legal issues and determine the likelihood of a fair settlement or need to file a lawsuit. We’ll keep you up-to-date on all developments and advise you on the range of possible outcomes so you can make educated decisions.

Because a monetary award will significantly impact your life, we put our negotiation and trial skills and experience to work.

We’re master negotiators, so you can rely on us to negotiate the best possible settlement for you. If the parties can’t agree on money, we’re prepared to file a lawsuit and aggressively try your case in the courtroom. And we have a proven track record of securing winning verdicts and other favorable resolutions in sexual assault and abuse cases.

Our sensitivity and compassion are as important as our legal representation.

Sexual assault and abuse―particularly when inflicted in a foster home where a child is supposed to feel loved and safe―leaves the victim with a wide range of emotions ranging from guilt, embarrassment, anger, self-blame, fear, loss of control, vulnerability, and more. We understand the trauma and confusion that the victim experiences, when foster parents, whom we are taught to place in high regard, violate our trust and cause grievous harm. The victim’s world is turned upside-down.

Be assured that we will handle your case in a sensitive and compassionate manner that respects your emotional needs, personal dignity, and privacy. Our team of lawyers, paralegals, and secretaries will coordinate with one another about your case and keep in constant contact with you. We help clients in these emotionally tough times by being accessible, supportive, and genuine. Our sensitivity and compassion make us better lawyers, too.

If a new legal matter arises during your case, we can help.

The firm’s foster care sexual assault and abuse practice is just one of many HRMM&L law practices. Because HRMM&L is a full-service law firm with substantial resources, we’re able to advise you on other legal problems that may arise during your case. And if the legal problem is one our firm doesn’t handle, we’ll refer you to another lawyer and firm whom we know and trust.

Other sexual assault and abuse problems you may encounter during your case: