Hancock County

Judge dismisses suit for toddlers allegedly sexually abused in DHS custody

Alexandria Faye’s federal lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Human Services was dismissed. According to her attorney, she plans to re-file in state court. The lawsuit was filed after at least one of her children, now ages 3 and 4, was sexually assaulted two years ago while in a foster home.
Alexandria Faye’s federal lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Human Services was dismissed. According to her attorney, she plans to re-file in state court. The lawsuit was filed after at least one of her children, now ages 3 and 4, was sexually assaulted two years ago while in a foster home. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

A federal judge has dismissed the civil rights lawsuit filed against the Mississippi Department of Human Services by a Hancock County woman whose two children may have been sexually abused while in state custody.

The plaintiff, Alexandria Faye, filed the suit last year in U.S. District Court in Gulfport. Faye said her two children, then 1 and 2 years old, were sexually abused and contracted gonorrhea while living in a Gulfport foster home in 2014. The suit named the foster parent, DHS, a day-care facility and several DHS caseworkers as defendants.

Judge Sul Ozerden dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning the plaintiff may refile the lawsuit. His ruling was based on Faye’s failure to meet a deadline for filing a second amended complaint as the initial complaint did not clearly say how each defendant violated her civil rights.

Her attorney, Edward Gibson, plans to refile the case in state court, which is better suited to hear the lawsuit, he said.

“Because of 11th Amendment issues (the 11th Amendment deals with rights and restrictions regarding lawsuits against states), it seemed more prudent to refile the case in state court,” Gibson said. “A renewed notice letter will be sent and then the case will be refiled in state court.”

Faye’s story was part of the Sun Herald’s recent investigation, “Fostering Secrets,” which uncovered audio recordings, court records and thousands of pages of documents related to allegations of children being taken away in error or on unsubstantiated claims of child abuse.

DHS policy does not allow agency officials to comment on pending litigation.

Wesley Muller: 228-896-2322, @WesleySMuller

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