Former foster kids sue the state after sexual abuse by foster dad

Former foster kids sue the state after sexual abuse by foster dad
Published: Dec. 22, 2014 at 11:29 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2014 at 5:05 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The victims of a former foster dad on Maui is suing the Department of Human Services.

Their attorney says the state should have known that the man was homeless, unemployed, and recently changed his name.

Florentino Rios moved to Maui from the mainland and took the name Zack Morris, after a character in the television sitcom, "Saved by the Bell."

Morris fostered a 14-year old boy and later a 15-year old boy between the years of 2009 and 2011.  He got an apartment first in Kihei and then in Hana.

The boys were forced to drink alcohol, repeatedly sexually and physically assaulted, and forced to watch porn.

"Its an absolutely disturbing, disturbing case," says Jon Jacobs, the victims' attorney, who says Morris would threaten them because they had already been in other foster families, "That they're next step would be some type of youth correctional facility. He played that against them, and against their fears that they would be incarcerated."

It was after a third boy, a 10-year old, who was also assaulted told authorities that Morris was arrested.

He was indicted on 20 charges and pleaded 'no contest'.

He is currently at the Halawa Correctional Facility, serving 20 years.

Jacobs says the state should have done more to protect the boys.  He says the fact that Morris had been homeless just before becoming a foster parent should have been obvious. And, Jacobs says Morris never held a job after moving to Maui so his income should have been questioned.

DHS did not respond to our request for comment. They have until the middle of January to respond to the lawsuit.

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