Foster care agencies are being sued after a teenage boy was reportedly filmed raping a three-week-old girl at a home.
The responsible adults have been accused of being aware of the 14-year-old's previous sexual assaults on young children.
A family identified as “The Kleins” are said to have set up video cameras at the home in Florida’s Ocala area which recorded him abusing the infant for more than 20 minutes.
Stacie Schmerling, an attorney with Justice for Kids in Fort Lauderdale, is suing Kids Central and The Centers, the agencies managing the foster home.
She said: "This tragedy never should have happened.
"The family never should have been licensed to care for these vulnerable, non-verbal children."
A probe by Florida Department of Children and Families found the boy had sexually penetrated the infant girl in March 2019, USA Today reports.
The teenager faced charges and was prosecuted after medics confirmed she was sexually abused but his sentence is not public because he is a juvenile.
The lawsuit filed in the Marion County Courthouse last week stated the Kleins fostered the boy in 2011 and he sexually molested a 5-year-old girl two years later aged nine.
A few years later, the boy’s younger brother spoke “about his 'butt' and things (his older brother) would do, indicating the possibility that (the boy) was sexually abusing the younger child or minimally being sexually inappropriate,” the suit states.
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The teenager’s biological mother exposed him to pornography and performed sex in front of him and must have sexualized him, it was alleged.
Kids Central, the nonprofit managing child welfare in the area, failed to get psychological evaluations for the teen boy, according to the claims.
It is also alleged that Kids Central and The Centers, which provides case management services, sent vulnerable children to the Kleins’ home even though the teenager had psychological issues.
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The infant girl probably “suffered at least some pain, if not a tremendous amount, and 20 minutes is an awfully long time to an infant,” a Gainesville paediatric neuropsychologist, Thomas Dikel told USA Today.
"What she was going through was horrific, terrifying. For all she knew, she was going to die,” Dikel said.
Though the girl was very young and may not remember everything about the incident, “the impact is definitely going to be there," Dikel said.
“The child's brain develops to survive the environment in which it is placed. It needs to know what to expect from the world, whether it's a safe or dangerous place,” he said.
The Daily Star has contacted Kids Central, Inc and The Centers for comment.
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