Approval sought to settle rape case

WARREN – An attorney for a couple who adopted an infant rape victim attacked by her biological parents during partially supervised visitations is seeking a judge’s approval on a $150,000 settlement of a federal lawsuit.

Attorney Michael Rossi originally asked for $3 million in the lawsuit against Trumbull County Children Services, where the visitations took place in 2011. Three CSB employees were named in the lawsuit.

A hearing is scheduled for March 12 before Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift, who will hear arguments to accept the offer that calls for a structured settlement that gives the 3-year-old girl a $25,000 payout at age 18 in 2028 and at least $565 a month for 30 years, or a total of $228,400.

The award – based on $100,000 put into an interest-bearing annuity – could reach $431,800 with the $25,000 lump-sum payout, if the girl lives longer.

According to the settlement proposal, $50,000 of the $150,000 is intended to cover court fees, litigation expenses and attorneys fees.

The county would be responsible for a $25,000 deductible with liability insurance covering the remaining $125,000, according to a county official.

Swift appointed local attorney Marty White to review the settlement in the best interest of the girl, whose natural parents are now serving life sentences for the rape convictions.

The adoptive parents and the victim were unidentified in the lawsuit Rossi filed in the pleadings.

U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson called the attacks ”reprehensible acts of human depravity” when she refused to dismiss CSB and the employees from the lawsuit on Dec. 31.

CSB had argued for governmental immunity in an attempt to defend the action.

”The court finds that it is beyond debate that a child such as (the victim in the case), who at all times was in the custody of a child services agency, enjoys an analogous right to reasonable safety – especially because the visitation program that was initiated and facilitated by individual defendants, and the sexual abuse that was perpetrated, occurred within the agency’s own walls,” Pearson wrote.

”The court, therefore, concludes that cases from this and other circuits provided notice to individual defendants that their conduct – placing (the victim) alone in a room with a known child rapist and another unstable individual – violated due process,” the judge wrote while denying qualified immunity.

The lawsuit named three employees that it said were responsible for the decision to allow the girl to receive partially unsupervised visits with her biological parents starting in January 2011.

The suit said Jessica Watkins was the caseworker in charge of the child’s case starting in January 2011 and that Robin Moon and Marilyn Pape were the supervisors on the case.

The agency decided that workers could check in on the visits about every 15 minutes even though the baby’s biological father, Cody Beemer, had been convicted of raping a 3-year-old when Beemer was a teenager.

The visits lasted until September 2011, when the rapes were discovered after the couple made a video on Felicia Beemer’s cell phone.

The decision led to Cody Beemer and Felicia Beemer to repeatedly rape the child during visits, the lawsuit said. The girl was younger than a year old at the time.