- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) - A child welfare agency in Cincinnati didn’t report signs of possible abuse to authorities and left a young girl in the custody of her parents, who are now charged in her death, according to a federal lawsuit.

The girl’s grandmother, Desena Bradley of Cincinnati, filed the wrongful death and civil rights suit against Hamilton County Job and Family Services this week. She alleges that misconduct by the agency and caseworkers violated 2-year-old Glenara Bates’ civil rights and led to the girl’s death in March.

She died from starvation and blunt-force injury. Glenara was significantly underweight, and authorities have said she was beaten and had belt and bite marks, among other injuries.

She was in foster care because of abuse and neglect, but caseworkers made an “indefensible decision” to return her to her parents, according to the lawsuit. Bradley alleges that decision was made despite doctors’ documentation that the girl had a protruding abdomen and indications of malnutrition, anemia, muscular wasting and other problems several months before her death.

The county agency and its caseworkers failed in their duty to act in the girl’s best interests, and because of their actions, “Glenara Bates suffered extreme physical pain, torture, starvation, horrific and ultimately life-ending injuries,” the lawsuit claims.

The county prosecutor’s office, which would represent the agency, had not seen the lawsuit and had no immediate comment, spokeswoman Julie Wilson said Friday.

Hamilton County JFS confirmed in April that the two workers assigned to Glenara’s case had resigned, and it announced other changes including plans to increase training, reduce caseloads and conduct more extensive family assessments.

The new lawsuit also names Glenara’s parents, Glen Bates and Andrea Bradley, as defendants. They have pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder and other charges and remain jailed.

Norman Aubin, the attorney representing Glen Bates in the criminal case, said Friday that he was not sure he would represent him in a civil action and had no comment Friday. A message left Friday for Bradley’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned.

The lawsuit seeks an award of at least $25,000.

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Franko reported from Columbus, Ohio.

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