exposing the dark side of adoption
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Civil court: Adoptive father 'aided and abetted' child's 2006 suffocation


SMITHFIELD, N.C. — A civil court in Johnston County found in favor of five children Tuesday in a case against their adoptive father. According to the court, Johnny Paddock "aided and abetted" his wife, Lynn Paddock, who was convicted in the 2006 death of their adopted son, Sean Paddock, then 4.

Lynn Paddock is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder and felony child abuse. Authorities said Sean was bound so tightly in blankets on Feb. 26, 2006, that he suffocated. By the time she was found guilty, Johnny Paddock had divorced her and said he agreed with the conviction.

Johnny Paddock claimed he had been unaware of the abuse, but the judge in his ex-wife's case said cast doubt on that claim. Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins said Johnny Paddock "does not qualify as a parent in any sense of the word."

Prosecutors have said they didn't have enough evidence to charge Johnny Paddock in the criminal case. He was not present at the civil trial and could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Attorneys Jay Trehy and David Mills filed wrongful death claims against Johnny Paddock on behalf of the five other children adopted by the couple. A suit against the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina Inc. is pending. The attorneys are seeking damages from that group for placing the children in the Paddock home.

Johnny Paddock also has a daughter from an earlier marriage.

The six surviving Paddock children testified during Lynn Paddock's 2008 trial that she beat them almost daily with flexible plastic rods, wooden spoons and other devices. She also forced them to exercise or sit facing a wall for hours, controlled what they ate and when they went to the bathroom and denied them contact with other children and adults.

A forensic pediatrician described the abuse as "ritualistic torture" that was rooted in Lynn Paddock's obsessive need for control.

2011 Jul 19