Skip to main content

Originally published March 12, 2014 at 6:46 PM | Page modified March 13, 2014 at 9:47 AM

  • Share:
  • Comments (34)
  • Print

State to pay $8M to 6 siblings who apparently suffered abuse

Six King County siblings who say they suffered 2½ years of physical abuse and neglect while living with a family friend will get a combined $8 million from Washington state as part of a legal settlement.

Seattle Times Olympia bureau

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
These incompetents are really running up the tab this week, yet as usual, no one in... MORE
How can a 12-year-old give birth to a child Fred and nobody in authority figure out... MORE
So who in the DSHS and CPS screwed up and will be fired or charged with neglect or... MORE


OLYMPIA — Six siblings who said they suffered 2½ years of physical abuse and neglect while living with a family friend will get a combined $8 million from Washington state as part of a legal settlement reached this week.

The King County children, who are now between 9 and 21 years old, said in a 2012 lawsuit that they were repeatedly beaten and tortured between 2008 and 2011 and that the state allowed the abuse to continue by failing to properly investigate 17 separate tips to the Child Protective Services (CPS) division of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

The family friend, with whom the children were living because they would otherwise have been homeless, denied the children food and access to showers and forced them to attack each other, according to the lawsuit.

On several occasions, the suit said, the children showed up at day care with bruises on their faces.

“Countless concerned citizens — day-care workers, school counselors, even a hair-salon worker — picked up the phone and reported the concerns they had,” said attorney Julie Kays, who represented the children along with co-worker Lincoln Beauregard. “Time and again CPS failed to act on these concerns and failed to protect the children.”

The family friend, Maria Gonzales Esquivel, who lived near Federal Way, is in jail awaiting trial on multiple assault charges involving one of the children and the child’s father. She has pleaded not guilty, and a trial is scheduled for June.

Mindy Chambers, a spokeswoman for DSHS, said that “any abuse of a child is a tragedy. We are glad that the individual accused of this horrible crime is in jail and will be tried before a court.”

The settlement was reached Tuesday, one day after the department agreed to pay $3 million to settle another case in which a woman claimed officials allowed sexual abuse to continue by not adequately investigating when she gave birth at age 12 after receiving essentially no prenatal care.

The timing of the settlements appeared coincidental.

Chambers said CPS received more than 41,500 reports of abuse in 2013 alone and works hard to respond but inevitably makes mistakes.

“Any time our practice is not perfect, we have to make a good-faith effort to settle,” she said. “ We hope the settlement money will be used for the benefit of these children — for education, for treatment, for what they need as they move into and through adulthood.”

Kays said the lawsuit was never about the money but holding the state accountable.

“This settlement is never going to erase the memories of what happened,” she said. “Nothing can. This lawsuit is important because, hopefully, it will bring about a greater awareness that CPS needs to change the way it conducts child-abuse investigations.”

Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or On Twitter @brianmrosenthal

Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

 Subscribe today!

Subscribe today!

99¢ for four weeks of unlimited digital access.


Partner Video


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►