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State May Have To Pay Sexually Abused Teen

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) - A girl who was sexually and physically abused after the state placed her in the home of a relative could receive $800,000 in compensation, under a bill filed this week by Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate.

The proposal (SB 40) comes as senators file what are known as "claim" bills for the 2015 legislative session.

The girl, identified in the bill only by the initials L.T., was removed from her mother's custody in 1995 and placed in the home of a great aunt and uncle. In 1997, the girl's unclepleaded no contest to committing a sex offense on another child under the age of 16 and received probation, but L.T. and her brother were kept in the home, the bill said.

The Department of Children and Families investigated in 2003 after a call to a hotline reported that L.T. was being abused by the uncle, but the agency concluded the girl was not at risk. The girl ran away in 2005 because of sexual and physical abuse, and the state ultimately removed her and her brother from the home.

The bill said L.T. has repeatedly tried to commit suicide and has been in and out of psychiatric facilities, though she now attends a university. A lawsuit was filed on L.T.'s behalf, leading to a settlement in which the state agreed to pay $1 million.

Sovereign immunity laws limit the amount the state can pay to $200,000, unless lawmakers approve a claim bill to pay a higher amount. Ring's bill would lead to payment of the remaining $800,000.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.



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