Unsubstantiated reports of alleged abuse and neglect have been erased from Massachusetts Department of Children and Families records for decades. This discovery took center stage during a hearing in Lowell Superior Court Thursday.
A lawsuit filed against DCF, social workers and a former foster family involves allegations of horrific physical, mental and sexual abuse in the foster home of Ray and Sue Blouin and red flags ignored by DCF. Ray is a registered sex offender, convicted of sexually abusing two girls placed in their care. The Blouins face new criminal charges related to the abuse of two boys in their home. They've entered not guilty pleas. Lawyers for some of the victims say many of the reports of abuse were shredded by DCF - erasing the trail of possible evidence in the case.
"They didn’t just shred child abuse reports, they also shredded child abuse investigations, DA’s office referrals, family assessments which decide whether or not a foster parent is a reasonable foster parent, reasonable caretaker for children," Erica Brody, an attorney representing the victim, said at the hearing.
According to the lawsuit, which centers around four children who were placed in the Blouin home, the kids were tortured for years during the late 90s and early 2000s, kept in dog cages at times and forced to drink their own urine. The children’s lawyers claim the shredding of records put the children in the Blouin home and other foster children at risk.
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According to the lawsuit, at least 14 51A reports were filed with DCF, between 1991 and 2004, alleging abuse in the household.
DCF tells the NBC10 Investigators that up until 2008 the department was required by law to expunge any unproven allegations of abuse and investigation. A spokesperson said criminal, sex offender and other checks are done each year. In January of that year, the statute was amended so DCF can retain those reports for future risk and safety assessments.