Family sues state for not disclosing abuse of adoptive children - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Family sues state for not disclosing abuse of adoptive children

Ashley Hilger Ashley Hilger
Beverly Hilger Beverly Hilger
José Rodriguez  (Source: Shelby County Detention Center) José Rodriguez (Source: Shelby County Detention Center)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Shelbyville family says the Commonwealth of Kentucky knowingly put children who were sexual abusers in their home and allowed the family to adopt them.  They claim those children went on to abuse the family's other kids.

That family has now filed suit against the three current or former Cabinet for Health and Family Services workers.

Ashley Hilger refuses to hide the abuse she says she suffered at the hands of two of her brothers.

"I'm not ashamed of what happened to me," she said. "It isn't my fault. I shouldn't have to hide these things."

Ashley is a high school senior now. In 2004, she was 8 years old when her mother and father adopted their seventh and eighth children, two brothers ages 11 and 15.

"I knew hard questions to ask," said her mother Beverly Hilger. "Had these boys ever been sexually abused? They told me, no they had not. I asked them was there a risk that they would sexually abuse. They told me no there was not."

But Beverly says soon after the adoption was final, she found out that was not true.

"These boys not only had been sexually abused, but were sexually abusing in the multitude of foster homes they had been placed in," she said.

She says at that point, the boys were hers. She and her family did what they could to make sure the abuse didn't continue.

"We had monitors, we had alarms, we had the let's sit down and talk about no closed doors to bedrooms," Beverly said, "but you've got to lay your head down and sleep at night and monsters come out at night."

Ashley describes what happened, "Inappropriate touching, like coming into my room late at night, doing things."

Ashley says over the course of the next six years she was first abused by the younger brother -- a juvenile at the time so WAVE 3 News is not naming him -- and then, José Rodriguez, who's now 24. He now faces first degree sexual abuse charges for what Ashley says he did to her.

"I can't change it and I can't make it go away but I can change it for someone else," said Ashley.

That's why Beverly and Ashley are sharing their story. They've hired attorney Bill McMurry and are suing three Health and Family Services workers who placed the boys in their home, without, they say, even mentioning the boys' troubled history until too late.

"I am told by workers that this goes on all the time and we're here to break this open," McMurry said. "It is going to end here."

Beverly says part of what she wants is answers.

"Part of me wants to know why still," she said. "Why did this have to happen to my children?"

But mostly what she wants is to stand by Ashley who is standing up, she believes, for everyone else.

"We did what we could and we're not going to stop doing what we can to prevent it."

McMurry says social workers are legally required to disclose to prospective adoptive families any mental or physical challenges they face.

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services said that its current policy requires all of this to be included in a written report, shared with prospective parents before an adoption.

The spokeswoman said since the Cabinet wasn't named in the current suit, she has no comment on the Hilgers' accusations.

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