WARREN - A judge has denied a $150,000 settlement between the Trumbull County Children Services Board and a Mesopotamia couple who adopted an infant rape victim attacked by her biological parents during a partially supervised visitation.
Thursday's decision by Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift sends the case back to federal court for further settlement talks or possible trial.
Swift followed the recommendation of local Attorney Martin F. White, who was appointed guardian for the young girl and who said the case should have settled for a larger amount.
Attorney Michael Rossi had filed a $3 million lawsuit against CSB, where the visitations took place in 2011.
Swift said as the case goes back on the docket in federal court, he will require an update from Rossi as to how the case proceeds.
CSB had argued for governmental immunity in an attempt to defend the action. Three CSB employees were named in the lawsuit. CSB declined any comment after Swift's decision.
White said the settlement was reached too early and more work should have been done on the case.
''Based on my review of the case, I'm not satisfied with any long term psychological damage that could occur,'' White said. ''This child will someday find out about her first sexual experience.''
The $150,000 agreement called for a structured settlement that could have given 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 have reached $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 was intended to cover court fees, litigation expenses and attorneys fees.
The adoptive parents and the victim were unidentified in the lawsuit Rossi filed, but the couple was in the courtroom Thursday with the mother testifying briefly and answering questions from Rossi and the judge.
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 - a date after Rossi had reached a settlement.
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 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. Both natural parents are serving life sentences in prison.