Accused pair will live apart from four sons

Date: 2004-06-26
Source: sptimes.com

As new sex-related allegations arise, a Hernando couple accused of abusing a foster child agree to move out of the home of their adult daughter, who has been awarded custody of the four boys.

By ROBERT KING

BROOKSVILLE - As new allegations surfaced Friday, the Hernando County couple accused of abusing and neglecting a severely malnourished girl agreed to live apart from their four sons.

Arthur and Lori Allain will be allowed extensive visits with their children under the supervision of their adult daughter, currently charged with caring for the boys.

The arrangement came after the Department of Children and Families called a hearing to address allegations that Arthur Allain and one of the couple's four sons sexually abused the 10-year-old girl, according to their attorney, Jim Dysart of Brooksville.

Court records detailing the sex abuse allegations were closed, but Lori Allain said she thinks the allegations arose in 2002.

Arthur Allain and his family called the allegations "ridiculous," and said they were part of a pattern of lies from the girl and her half-brother, who is 14. They say the sex abuse allegations were previously investigated by DCF and dismissed.

The hearing Friday was the fourth in six days involving the Allains and DCF.

The agency made it clear earlier this week that it was seeking to separate the four boys from their parents. The couple has two other biological children - the daughter who has custody of the boys, and another daughter.

DCF attorneys argued at previous hearings that allegations of child abuse involving the girl were reason enough to separate the boys from their parents. They also said domestic problems in the home of the Allains' adult daughter further justified pulling the boys out.

Each effort failed, in part because judges said the law required evidence that the boys faced a direct threat.

Arthur and Lori Allain agreed Friday to return to their home north of Weeki Wachee while the boys stay with their adult sister in Spring Hill. Still, the entire family plans to take a vacation next week to the New Jersey shore.

The Allains and their attorney have accused DCF of trying to combat negative publicity by going after their four boys.

The Allains previously have described the girl and her half brother as "pathological liars." They have pointed to clinical assessments indicating the girl made sexual abuse allegations only to back away from them, and notations in those documents about manipulative behavior by the girl and her half-brother.

Dysart, the couple's attorney, joined his clients Friday in calling the allegations "garbage."

"The two children removed from the home have a history of false allegations and we feel that's what's happened here," Dysart said.

Dysart said the Allains are not child abusers but good people who were overwhelmed when it came to caring for two troubled children. Dysart said he could not explain why the Allains had failed to take the girl to a doctor when she appeared to be in perilous health.

Part of the problem is the system, Dysart said.

While the state gives financial aid to trained foster care families, the Allains were designated as long-term, non-relative care givers. Therefore, they received no state payments and no guidance about medical care or special needs.

"There's something strange about that. I think this case revealed a flaw in the system. The Allains went to DCF and said we need help and DCF said we can't help, we don't have the money," Dysart said. "Instead, the system relied wholesale on the Allains to make those decisions."

DCF spokeswoman Renea Marcano said she couldn't address specifics of the case, but said DCF helps non-relative caregivers get counseling and other health care for children via Medicaid.

However, non-relative caregivers do not qualify for the extensive training of foster parents because they generally provide short-term care to children they know personally.

The Allains provided non-relative care for four years before the two children were removed from the home last month.

Arthur Allain, known to friends as Tommy, expressed frustration about his family's fourth trip to court this week. He called the sex abuse allegations "ridiculous."

The Allains had been staying with their daughter, Kristen Staab, in Spring Hill since shortly before allegations of neglect and abuse surfaced last month. They said the reason for their relocation was renovations going on in their home on Hurricane Drive.

"I'm not worried," Arthur Allain said. "What's next? Are they going to say we set her on fire to see how fast she would go out?"

- Times staff writer Robert King can be reached at 352 848-1432 or rking@sptimes.com

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