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Bills Call For Compensation Of Sexual Assault Victim

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - Senate Republicans this week filed two bills that call for spending about six million to compensate sexual-assault victims because of the negligence of state agencies.

Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, filed a bill that would direct payment of nearly $5.1 million to a victim because of the Department of Children and Families' actions in placing a troubled youth, identified only by the initials J.W., in the home of a foster family.

The bill says a Department of Children and Families caseworker failed to tell the family that J.W. had been a victim and perpetrator of sexual abuse, was an alleged juvenile sexual offender and had been recommended to go to a residential treatment facility. A child in the family later said he had been sexually assaulted by J.W., who moved into the family home in 2002.

A lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County circuit court on behalf of the child who was assaulted led to a judgment of $5,176,543 against the department. The state's sovereign immunity laws placed a $100,000 limit on what could be paid to the victim, identified by the initials C.M.H., without legislative approval of a higher amount.

Garcia's bill would direct payment of the remaining $5,076,543.

The other bill, filed Wednesday by Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, would direct the payment of $950,000 for a developmentally disabled woman, identified by the initials J.D.S., who was raped an impregnated in 2002 by the husband of an owner of an Orlando group home.

A lawsuit alleged that the state was negligent in oversight of the group home, and a settlement was reached for $1.15 million, according to the bill. The state paid $200,000 but needs legislative approval to pay the remaining amount. Both "claim" bills were filed for consideration during the 2016 legislative session.

Similar bills were filed during the 2015 session but did not pass.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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