Watch CBS News

Family sues Massachusetts DCF, Waltham after kids taken in middle of the night

Family sues DCF, Waltham after kids taken in middle of the night
Family sues DCF, Waltham after kids taken in middle of the night 03:37

WALTHAM - It was 1 a.m. on Saturday, July 16, 2022, when Waltham Police and employees from the Department of Children and Families showed up to the Sabey home without a warrant to take the kids into custody.

Three days prior, a hospital employee had identified a healing rib fracture on Cal, the baby of the family, as he was in the Emergency Room for a fever. Mom Sarah was able to go home with the baby.

Now, the family is claiming that home visit and seizure of the kids was "reprehensible and plainly unconstitutional" in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday. "There was no plausible imminent threat that could justify...seizing the sleeping toddler and infant from their loving parents and family home in the middle of the night," the complaint reads.

DCF did not immediately respond to WBZ's request for comment, and the Mayor of Waltham said the city does not comment on pending litigation.

Following the middle-of-the-night visit, three-year-old Clarence and months-old Cal were placed in DCF custody, and eventually in the home of their grandparents for a month as their parents were investigated for child abuse.

Josh Sabey Sarah Perkins
Josh Sabey, Sarah Perkins and their children CBS Boston

The parents recorded the encounter on their cell phones. Police say in the video, "I would like to have paperwork...but it's not here." The children can be heard crying as they are taken into a white car with DCF employees.

Now, ten months later, Josh Sabey and his wife Sarah Perkins have been cleared of the suspected child abuse.

The Sabeys are represented by Pacific Legal Foundation. They say they're bringing the lawsuit against the public employees who took their kids because they are in a position of privilege and want to see change in DCF's practices. "We're educated," Sarah Perkins explained. "We have really involved family members. We have access to resources and financial assistance, and I think the vast majority of families in the system are impoverished, or, you know, just have way fewer resources at their disposal. And I think because of that, we feel a real responsibility to do something that can help families in this system that don't have this sort of capability to change laws, to change statutes."

The Sabeys still don't know what caused Cal's broken rib, but suspect it might have been a time when his grandmother was babysitting and caught him as he nearly fell out of his carseat.

They say their older son, Clarence, has had night terrors, potty training regression, and other signs of trauma since he was taken into DCF custody.

The family has since moved to Idaho for Sarah's career. 

The full federal complaint can be read here

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.