Lawsuit Claims 'Child Torture' State Accused of Neglect in Abuse of Three Children in Spokane Valley

By Clouse, Thomas | The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), March 6, 2019 | Go to article overview

Lawsuit Claims 'Child Torture' State Accused of Neglect in Abuse of Three Children in Spokane Valley


Clouse, Thomas, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)


A multimillion-dollar lawsuit has been filed alleging state social workers failed multiple times to remove three Spokane Valley children from a home where they suffered beatings, bites and sexual abuse that one nurse said constituted "child torture."

When Spokane County deputies raided the home in July 2016 for an unrelated assault, they found a 2-year-old boy with a broken leg splinted with a Pringles potato chip can, the lawsuit states.

The suit was filed this week in Spokane County Superior Court by Seattle attorney Tim Tesh, who last fall won a $19.3 million settlement from the Department of Social and Health Services. That settlement, which is the largest of its kind in state history, related to abuse that left a Pierce County child blind and a quadriplegic for life.

Tesh also handled the civil lawsuits against the state on behalf of the estate of Tyler DeLeon, who officials believed died from starvation on Jan. 13, 2005, in Stevens County while in the care of foster parent Carole DeLeon.

The alleged abuse of the three Spokane Valley children - a 7-year-old girl and boys ages 5 and 3 - is "bad and it's over a long period of time," Tesh said. "And, CPS was aware of these allegations."

Reached on Tuesday in Olympia, Debra Johnson, spokeswoman for the newly-formed state Department of Children, Youth and Families, said the agency, which now oversees Child Protective Services, does not typically respond to pending litigation.

According to the suit, the three children were removed from the care of Taliferro B. Williams, 42, in 2013 and placed in the care of their mother, Lasca Pulley.

In 2015, the state removed two of the children from the care of their mother's great-grandparents and placed them in the care of Williams.

During that time, the mother reported to state caseworkers that Williams had assaulted her, choked her and gouged her eyes during "a physically abusive relationship over a span of four years. The extent of the abuse was very violent in nature," the suit states.

The case also details a strained relationship between CPS investigators and Williams, who was convicted of assault in 2008 for stabbing a Seattle Police officer in the leg with a hemostat just hours after he was released from jail. According to Tesh's suit, state workers were issued warnings that Williams was "extremely dangerous. Do not approach on your own."

Efforts Tuesday to reach Williams at his last known Spokane Valley address were unsuccessful.

Given Williams' multiple misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence and violations of protection orders, the state considered the three children "to be at increased risk with limited ability to self protect due to their ages," court records state.

In 2015, CPS workers began receiving reports that Williams began abusing the children, including reports of bruising, choking, neglect, biting and pulling out patches of hair.

Months later, on Jan. 3, 2016, the state agency received a report that Williams had bitten the younger boy and had previously bitten the older boy. Later that same day, social workers received another report alleging the younger boy had "bite marks on both feet and a black eye and a gash across his nose."

While the seriousness of that report should have generated a response within 24 hours, nobody visited the home for 15 days, Tesh wrote. When they did, Williams refused to allow the state workers to speak to the children alone or inspect them under their clothing.

When one of the social workers asked to photograph the children and take them to a doctor, Williams "became upset and angrily accused DSHS of ruining his life. …

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