A spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Scott has indicated that the governor's office wants the Department and Children and Families to pay the settlement to the surviving Barahona twin whose sibling died after years of torture by their adoptive parents, but questions remain.
"DCF will work with everyone involved to honor the agency's commitment to compensate the victim of this terrible tragedy,'' said Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz in an email to the Miami Herald late Tuesday.
It is unclear how DCF will honor the agency's commitment or how long it will take. The department's deputy general counsel has objected to a claim bill that has been filed to compensate Victor Barahona for the $3.75 million the state owes him and, as a result of those objections and additional concerns raised by the Senate's lawyer, the bill has been put on indefinite hold.
DCF agreed in 2013 to settle the child abuse lawsuit of Victor and the estate of his deceased sister, Nubia, whose body was found doused in chemicals in his father's pickup on Valentines' Day 2011. Victor was rescued, barely alive and covered with chemical burns, nearby. The agency convened a panel and conducted a report that concluded the state's child welfare safety net had been a "systemic failure" for the twins who had been in state care since they were infants.
DCF did not admit liability in the settlement with Victor and his new parents. It agreed to pay $5 million but not admit liability and $1.25 million was paid immediately. The remaining $3.75 million was to come from the passage of a claim bill and the settlement indicated DCF would not object to its passage. After the bill was filed, DCF then objected to the "whereas clauses," most of which had been taken from the DCF report, and the bill has now been indefinitely on hold.
Sen. Antiere Flores, R-Miami, the sponsor of the claim bill, said she would "not rest" until the victim has been compensated and she is working to find an alternative way to have the measure pass the Legislature this year.
Schutz and DCF would not indicate how DCF will move ahead with compensating the victim. Will it ask the Senate to waive its rules? Will DCF withdraw it's objections to the Senate claims bill? Schutz did not provide a response