- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire is asking a judge to dismiss parts of a lawsuit alleging negligence by the state’s Division for Children, Youth and Families in the case of two girls who were sexually abused by their parents in 2013.

Attorney General Joe Foster claimed in a court document Monday that the agency is not liable for criminal actions committed by the parents. Attorney Rus Rilee filed the lawsuit in October on behalf of the girls’ grandparents. The state also argues the grandparents cannot be granted financial or other relief because “there is no duty owed” to them by the state.

The lawsuit charges that the Division for Children, Youth and Families and its employees acted negligently by allowing the girls to have unsupervised visits with their parents, even though Claremont police were investigating charges that the parents had molested children at a homeless shelter where they were living. The girls had been under DCYF supervision, and living with their grandparents, after the father kicked one of them across a room in 2012, the lawsuit says.

The agency admits it knew of the Claremont police’s investigation but did not independently review it.

But it denies wrongdoing and says it cannot be held liable for the sexual abuse committed by the parents. In its response, DCYF denies one of its workers told the grandmother she was going to get the girls back with their parents. The state also alleges the DCYF worker involved wasn’t aware of all of the grandmother’s concerns related to possible sexual abuse by the parents.

The agency does not dispute the abuse, but writes “such conduct was not performed for DCYF’s benefit.”

Rilee called the agency’s denial of liability “laughable.” He said the suit is alleging the Division for Children, Youth and Families is liable for failing to train its employees or ensure adequate supervision, not that the agency is liable for the parents’ behavior.

Rilee is demanding a jury trial if the case goes forward. The case also alleges negligent supervision and training by Easter Seals, an outside organization that assists with supervised visits.

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