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State to pay abused foster children nearly $4 million


Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE — Florida will pay nearly $4 million to two children for letting them stay in a Hernando County home where they had been starved and abused by their foster parents.

Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon confirmed the settlement Tuesday and called the case "horrific."

His agency last month agreed to pay $700,000 into a trust fund for John Joseph Edwards Jr., 19, and $3.275 million to his 15-year-old half sister. Their foster parents, Lori and Arthur "Tommy" Allain, were sentenced to 25 years in prison for child abuse and neglect in 2006.

Department of Corrections records show that John Joseph Edwards Jr. is serving a three-year sentence for burglary and grand theft. A Children and Families spokeswoman said that his sister has been adopted and no longer is in state custody.

"I don't think any amount of money can restore what they lost because of inaction on the part of the state," Sheldon said. "I was just shocked what occurred. I'm hoping that we have sufficiently changed the culture in the department that this kind of thing would not happen again."

Sheldon said the trust fund will pay for long-term therapy both victims will need. The payment settles lawsuits against the state in federal and Florida courts.

2009 Aug 5