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Lawyer for victim asks judge to order DCF to stop fighting child abuse settlement

Lawyers for one of the surviving victims of the Barahona child abuse tragedy asked a judge on Tuesday to order the Florida Department of Children and Families to honor a settlement it agreed to last year and stop trying to delay the payments.

Neal A. Roth filed a "Motion to Enforce Settlement" with the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County suggesting that the agency's attempts to oppose legislation that authorizes payment to Victor Barahona and his new parents has "breached the settlement agreement and has completely undermined the settlement."

DCF last year agreed to pay $5 million for the rehabiliation of Victor Barahona, after he was found with chemical burns and near death alongside the body of his his twin sister, Nubia. The 10-year-old twins had been in the state's child welfare system their entire lives, including after they were adopted by Jorge and Carmen Barahona. Despite repeated warnings to the state's child abuse hotline, the twins suffered years of torture and sexual abuse from their adoptive parents as the state stood silent.

The Barahona parents are now facing  murder charges and DCF agreed to pay $1.25 million immediately. Although the agency did not admit liability, as part of the settlement it has agreed not to oppose legislation to authorize the remainder of the money. 

DCF has now changed its position and objects to the "whereas" clauses in the proposed bill. It claims the legislation could hurt DCF's attempt to fight two other child abuse lawsuits by two other Barahona children.

Several South Florida legislators have said they will not let the legal technicality stand in the way of getting payments to the victim of one of the most horrific child abuse cases in state history, and Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said she “won’t rest” until Victor and his new parents are paid what they have been promised. 

Roth has also asked the court to order the agency to step back from its opposition so that the claim bill can move forward.

"The Survivor and the Victim's estate have suffered horrendous abuse which is well-documented,'' he wrote in the motion. "DCF settled the case because they knew what their exposure was relative to the issues in this case. To allow DCF to continue to engage in conduct which is outside the Settlement Agreement is inappropriate and cannot be condoned."  Download Motion to Enforce