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N4T Investigators: Injuries to girl, 5, prompt lawsuit against s - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Injuries to girl, 5, prompt lawsuit against state

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The News 4 Tucson Investigators have an update on a case of alleged child abuse that shocked our community.

The case involves a 5-year-old girl who was severely burned in December. Pima County Sheriff's detectives say her adoptive mother caused those injuries.

Now, the case of that little girl, known as "Jane Doe" has prompted a civil lawsuit that targets the state agency responsible for watching over Arizona's youngest victims.

“These were horrific. We're looking at third-degree burns over 80 percent of her body,” said Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier.

 Napier has been in law enforcement for decades and called this one of the worst child abuse cases he's seen.

“The injuries were so traumatic as to really be shocking to the conscience of even our detectives, who have seen a lot of terrible things in the past,” Napier told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

Click here to read the details of the case.

It was Dec. 29 when deputies were called to a home on Tucson's Northwest side. The girl's adoptive mother, Samantha Osteraas, told 911, that she didn't realize she was bathing the child in hot water. Even early on, investigators said they weren't buying Osteraas' version of what had happened to the little girl.

“We strongly believe that this was not an accident, but more of an intentional act,” Detective Manuel Rios told News 4 Tucson Investigators.

Digging deeper, we learned the little girl was removed from her biological mother at the age of 2 because of a domestic violence situation. From there, the state placed her in the care of David Frodsham in Sierra Vista. He has since been sent to prison, after being convicted of sex crimes against kids.

“These children are the most defenseless in our society. I mean, who is there to protect this little child?” said John Manley, one of the attorneys who is now working on a civil lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Child Safety and others, including Samantha Osteraas and her husband, and David Frodsham and his wife.

“You don't fail this miserably and this repeatedly because of just a few bad apples. You fail this miserably because there's a lack of leadership at the top, and it's not child-focused,” Manley told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

Manley said the goal of the lawsuit is to make sure the girl's future financial needs are taken care of, and, to shine a light on deeper issues within DCS.

“I think what you have, is a culture there that looks at the children it's supposed to serve as simply a meal-ticket,” Manley said.

In an email to the News 4 Tucson Investigators, a DCS spokesperson told us the department requires potential foster placements to undergo a thorough vetting process before acquiring a license. The process includes full background checks; a central registry check for prior DCS history; fingerprint clearance from the Arizona Department of Public Safety; home inspections; reference checks; and licensing classes through a provider agency.

DCS. officials add that while a small number of people with bad intentions do manage to make it past the rigorous licensing process, the vast majority of Arizona foster parents are generous, dedicated people.

Here is the entire email from DCS:

The Department does its best to place the children in our care in the safest homes possible.

While we cannot comment on individual foster placements due to confidentiality laws, we can comment on how DCS licenses its foster placements in general.

The Department requires potential foster placements to undergo a thorough vetting process before acquiring a license. 

This process includes full background checks, a central registry check for prior DCS history, a fingerprint clearance card issued from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, home inspections, reference checks, and licensing classes through a provider agency.

Although we don’t conduct mental health exams on potential licensed foster placements, they are required to have a physician state if there are any “medical, emotional, or other condition that could interfere with the ability to care for, nurture, or supervise children.”

Licensed foster placements also receive quarterly home visits from their licensing agencies in addition to monthly DCS visits.

As an added oversight, the court must approve out-of-home placements. 

But sometimes people are able to avoid detection, especially if the person has no prior criminal or child abuse history.

We would like to point out that while a small number of people with bad intentions do manage to make it past the rigorous licensing process, the vast majority of Arizona foster parents are generous, dedicated people and we are grateful they open up their homes to Arizona’s most vulnerable children.

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