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Upshur couple blames DHHR for not telling them of adopted son's sexual abuse history

By Lawrence Smith | Feb 25, 2009

CHARLESTON - Because of misinformation provided to them by state officials, an Upshur County couple is alleging that one of their adoptive sons has continued a pattern of sexual abuse inflicted on him as an infant causing an unnecessary hardship on the family.

Tim and Becky Grogg, of Rock Cave, have filed two lawsuits in Kanawha Circuit Court against the state Department of Health and Human Resources. Though the suits, which were filed on Jan. 13, make slightly different claims, both allege that DHHR officials, who placed their now-adopted sons in the Grogg's care as foster children, lied about the boys' previous history of sexual abuse.

According to court records, the Groggs became involved in DHHR's foster parent program around 2000 since, at the time, they were unable to conceive children of their own. However, around that time, Becky became pregnant and later gave birth to a girl, who is identified in the suit as C.G.

Nevertheless, the Groggs welcomed into their home two boys, who are identified at P.C. and K.C. At the time of their placement, P.C. and K.C. were 7 and 6-years-old, respectfully.

Prior to accepting them as foster children, the Groggs say they "questioned representatives of the Defendant DHHR at length regarding the history of P.C. and K.C. …[s]pecifically…as to whether P.C. or K.C. had ever been sexually abused and/or assaulted at any time during their lives."

In the suit, the Grogg allege they "were advised by Defendant DHHR that P.C. and K.C. had never been sexually abused or assaulted, a representation in which DHHR representatives knew to be false."

"Both P.C. and K.C.," the Groggs continue, "were sexually assaulted on numerous occasions by various individuals in the first couple of years of their lives while still under the supervision of their natural mother."

Though records are unclear as to how they found out, the Groggs aver that in 1995, when P.C. and K.C. were 3- and 2-years old, respectfully, DHHR's Child Protective Services opened a file on their biological mother. The reason CPS launching an investigation was due to the mother's inability to keep the home drug-, alcohol- and sexual-abuse-free.

Upon becoming aware of the boys being abused, the Groggs allege DHHR took P.C. and K.C. into custody because of their "suffer[ing] such extensive and continued emotional pain and physical abuse" and their "disturbing deviant sexual behavior towards other young boys."

In their suit, the Groggs hint that knowing P.C.'s and K.C.'s previous history of abuse would not have stopped them from adopting the boys. Rather, the knowledge of abuse would have been helpful so "they could have taken various steps to prevent further injury or damage to the boys and others by providing counseling, therapy and taking other steps to ensure the boys did not harm themselves or others."

In any event, though records do not say exactly when, the Groggs, after taking P.C. and K.C. in as foster children, formally adopted them and changed their names to B.C.G. and D.G., respectfully.

Trouble resurfaces in 2006

Since the adoption, the Groggs allege the boys' sexually deviant behavior resurfaced. The first instance occurred in 2006 when B.C.G. sexually abused D.G.

Shortly thereafter, records show the Groggs placed B.C.G in the Blessed Hope School for Children in Valdese, N.C. Records are not clear as to what role the school served.

Nevertheless, on Jan. 20, 2007, school officials informed the Groggs of more bad news.

According to court records, the Groggs learned "that B.C.G. had admitted to sexually assaulting a child on a previous church camping trip." Also, the Groggs "were also advised of other incidents at the school, including B.C.G exposing himself to other students and attempting to touch other students inappropriately."

As a result of his actions, the Groggs allege B.C.G. had been declared a delinquent, and placed in a residential facility for treatment where, at the time the suit was filed, he resided. Also, B.C.G.'s actions have resulted in D.G. displaying behavioral problems to where he, too, was placed in a residential treatment facility last year.

Two suits with similar claims

In one of their suits, the Groggs filed together in both their personal capacity and as the boys' parents. In that suit, filed with the assistance of Brent K. Kesner, with the Charleston law firm, of Kesner, Kesner and Bramble, make claims of negligence, misrepresentation, outrage, violation of statute and constitutional violations.

Specifically, the Groggs allege DHHR violated W. Va. Code 48-22-401 when they failed to inform the Groggs of the boys' medical and family history "including their history of sexual abuse." Also, DHHR denied D.G.'s rights of equal protection and due process under Article III, Chapter 10, Section 17 of the W. Va. Constitution when it failed to place him in a "a safe, non-violent environment."

As a result of DHHR's actions, the Groggs allege that in addition emotional trauma, mental anguish, annoyance and inconvenience, they have "suffered the loss of companionship and friendship of their adoptive sons" and "the fear of harm which potentially be caused to their natural daughter, C.G."

Furthermore, the Groggs allege D.G. has suffered "mental anguish, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life, embarrassment and loss of earning capacity."

In the other suit, Becky Grogg filed on B.C.G's behalf. The suit, filed with the assistance of Kevin Harris, with the Ripley law office of Harris and Holmes, Grogg's suit makes all the claims she and her husband made in the other one except misrepresentation.

Also, Grogg alleges DHHR' s "acts and omissions' violated B.C.G.'s rights of equal protection and due process in not informing the Groggs of his prior sexual abuse so he could receive timely treatment for it. Because of DHHR's negligence, Grogg alleges B.C.G. "has suffered increased mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, embarrassment and loss of earning capacity."

In both suits, the Groggs are seeking unspecified damages, court costs and attorney's fees.

The Grogg's case involving both their sons has been assigned to Judge Paul Zakaib. The case involving only Becky Grogg as parent of B.C.G. has been assigned to Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case numbers 09-C-57 and 09-C-58

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