Trumbull CSB sex lawsuit is dismissed

WARREN – A judge has dismissed a federal lawsuit filed by three women who claim they were sexually abused as minors by a former youth leader with Trumbull County Children’s Services.

U.S. District Judge John Adams ruled that statute of limitations prevents the plaintiffs from making any claims after they reach age 20. The women are older than age 20 now.

Attorney David Engler, who represents the women, said he intends to re-file the case in common pleas court in either Trumbull, Mahoning or Columbiana County. And he said he intends to add at least one more plaintiff who has surfaced since the case was filed last September.

Engler said state courts allow claims within 12 years after plaintiffs reach age 18.

CSB Executive Director Tim Schaffner reiterated that no criminal charges were ever filed in the case. ”The agency was aware of these claims earlier. They were reported to police, who conducted interviews. The claims were unfounded,” he said.

The females represented by Engler claimed they had sexual relations with the youth leader six or seven times while they were in a CSB residential facility.

The youth leader or dorm mother, identified in the lawsuit as Rita Watson, was named along with CSB as defendants in the action that sought $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages for each woman, who were minors at the time, according to Engler.

Watson has since resigned.

The lawsuit lists one of the plaintiffs as ”T.W.” of Shalom Avenue N.W., Warren, and the two others as Kenya Kennedy of North Park Avenue Extension, Warren, and Shamia Fudge, of the same address on Shalom.

Engler said the girls were between 12 and 14 at the time and supervised by Watson, who now lives in Girard.

Throughout the period, the suit states, Watson “groomed” the girls through shopping trips, privileges at the residential unit, ability to drive cars, consume tobacco products and various other gift giving.