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Oklahoma Department of Human Services to pay part of $1.1 million settlement to young man sexually molested in foster care

Oklahoma DHS officials declined to reveal the state's share after they voted to pay part of the settlement.
BY NOLAN CLAY AND ROBBY TRAMMELL Published: October 26, 2011

DHS commissioners voted Tuesday to pay a share of the $1.1 million settlement that is going to a young man who was sexually molested at a foster home.

DHS commissioners and attorneys kept secret from the public — for now — how much the state's share will be.

“I'm sorry I can't be of more help, but I understood that it was all confidential,” said Brad Yarbrough, who was picked by the governor in September to be the new DHS commission chairman.

Another commissioner, Steven Dow, said he was told the state's share will be disclosed when the judge approves the settlement and payment is made.

Dow said he voted against the settlement because he hadn't been given enough time to decide whether it was the right thing to do. He said he first learned of the lawsuit last week.

The victim — then 15 — was molested by his foster father and the foster father's live-in lover in 2006 in Oklahoma City. Both are now in prison for their sex crimes.

The victim — now 21 — sued the Department of Human Services in 2007. He also sued Shadow Mountain Behavioral Health System, which was paid by DHS to find foster parents and to provide children with psychological services.

He alleged DHS and Shadow Mountain workers left him in the foster home where he was molested even though they knew or suspected it was dangerous for him there.

Last month, days before the lawsuit was to go to trial at the Cleveland County Courthouse, attorneys told the judge the case had settled.

The victim's attorneys, David Van Meter and Tom Prince, would not discuss the settlement. Van Meter said the defendants — DHS and Shadow Mountain — asked that it be confidential.

The victim's attorneys last week complained to the judge that DHS and Shadow Mountain were delaying payment of the settlement without justification.

The attorneys blacked out the settlement amount in the court papers. The Oklahoman, however, was able to calculate the amount of the overall settlement because attorneys asked for $308.90 in daily interest until it is paid.

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