In SummaryAfter an eight-year-old was beaten to death by her father's girlfriend in Illinois, Ben Crump has filed a lawsuit against DCFS.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is leading a federal lawsuit against DCFS in Illinois after an eight-year-old was beaten to death.
According to WMBD, Antionette Rountree and her lawyers announced the lawsuit against the agency, six of its employees and the state. The lawsuit alleges the constitutional rights of her child, Rica Rountree, were violated because the agency failed to stop the abuse the child faced.
Rica died from injuries she received from being beaten by her father’s girlfriend, Cynthia Baker, in 2019. Baker was sentenced to life in prison and Rica’s father, Richard Rountree, was sentenced to eight years.
Crump will be working with Steven Levin, a Senior Partner at Levin & Perconti, on the case. “The facts here are so strong and so compelling, whatever legal hurdles the sovereign [state] can place in our way, we will be able to overcome,” Levin said.
Crump said DCFS should have taken other reports of abuse in Rountree’s case more seriously. “It was right there if anybody from DCFS just opened their eyes and looked,” said Crump. “If they just opened their ears and listened, if they just opened their heart and cared about this little Black girl.”
The lawyers did not reveal how much the lawsuit is seeking in damages. “Imagine what you think would be fair compensation for what this child endured, and whatever you come up with, that is what we will be seeking.”
DCFS sent the following statement to WMBD in response to the lawsuit:
“DCFS does not comment on pending litigation, however, we are committed to doing everything in our power to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future. The department has taken several steps to better serve vulnerable children and families, including providing additional training for more than 3,200 staff to help identify safety issues. DCFS remains deeply saddened by the death of Rica Rountree and is dedicated to protecting the children of Illinois to the fullest extent possible.”
If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.