Six Kids Neglected by Florida Foster Care

ByABC News
May 23, 2002, 4:40 PM

May 24 -- They are five brothers and their sister who stuck together in the face of what is described as almost perverse cruelty, without an adult in sight to save them.

"I used to think in my mind, 'I wish I was dead so I didn't have to be in this stupid place,'" says Joey, now 14.

He describes life in the home of Jacqueline Lynch, who collected $150,000 as a foster mother, even though one of her own children had previously been taken away from her by the state of Florida because of allegations of physical and sexual abuse in her home.

"They hit us with their hands," says Jordan, 14. "Or with a belt," adds Suzanna.

Now safe and adopted into a loving home, the six kids 15-year-old Jesse, twin brothers Jordan and Joey, freckle-faced Toby and another set of twins, Suzanna and Robbie are for the first time telling their story. Their words are a damning indictment of the state officials who took them away from their biological mother, an alcoholic, and left them unchecked for months at a time in the hands of strangers.

"These children were tortured. These children were neglected. These children were abused," says Howard Talenfeld, a family-rights attorney. "What happened to these children was inhumane."

No Teddy Bears

Talenfeld says officials of Florida's Department of Children and Families simply ignored Lynch's background when placing the children in her care.

"Time after time the bells went off that this was a dangerous home," he says. "One of her children was taken and two were under protective supervision."

At one point, Talenfeld says, Lynch actually fled the state's jurisdiction in order to avoid the department. "There had been a statewide alert put out," he says; and yet, "when she came back, they licensed her and her husband as foster parents."

For almost two years, no state caseworker ever came to inspect the Lynch home about a 20-minute drive from the state offices even though there are supposed to be visits once a month.