San Diego

County Failed to Inform Adoptive Parents Child Was Victim of High Profile Sex Abuse Case: Lawsuit

The victim was abused over the span of seven years by Michael Hayes, who is currently serving 20 years in prison for the abuse

A San Diego couple who adopted a boy who was molested by his foster parent said the county failed to inform them of the past abuse, and that the boy had shown signs of sexually inappropriate behavior prior to the adoption.

According to a new civil lawsuit, Cynthia and Elaine T. said they unknowingly adopted a victim of Michael Hayes, a foster father who was charged with 26 felony molestation charges on three young boys placed in his care. NBC 7 is not releasing the full names of the adoptive parents due to reports of minor sex abuse.

Hayes later pleaded guilty to eight charges and is serving 20 years in a state prison for the abuse. 

According to the lawsuit, law enforcement found the three boys living in squalor inside Hayes’ two-bedroom apartment in San Diego's Lincoln Park area in 2013.

The boys told police the foster father would sexually abuse them, and that they would wake to Hayes sucking on their toes. The abuse occurred over a span of seven years.

The abuse came to light after a lawsuit was filed by two of the three victims, as well as reports in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

San Diego County later settled the lawsuit for $3 million.

But little was known about the third victim, known only as "A.H."

According to the newly-filed lawsuit, San Diego County removed A.H. from Hayes’ home, however, Hayes was still allowed visitation.

During these county-approved visits, Hayes "made inappropriate physical contact with A.H...Hayes would touch and stroke A.H’s neck, arms, and the back of his head," the lawsuit detailed.

A.H. reportedly began having nightmares and was discovered displaying sexually inappropriate behavior while under county supervision.

In November 2013, the County’s Health and Human Services Agency reached out to Cynthia and Elaine T. to see if they would take A.H. into their home.

The couple, according to the lawsuit, asked the agency for additional information.

“(The county) continued to represent that A.H. never disclosed sexual abuse by Mr. Hayes,” reads the lawsuit. “Based on these representations, Cynthia and Elaine made the decision to have A.H. placed in their home, and ultimately decided to adopt A.H.”

Attorneys for the adoptive parents said formal adoption papers were drafted in April 2015 and made no mention of the prior abuse by Hayes.

The complaint alleges A.H.’s adoptive parents were not made aware of the abuse until media reported on the lawsuit filed by the other two boys Hayes had molested.

Reads the lawsuit: "Around or after July 22, 2018, Cynthia and Elaine read the San Diego Union-Tribune article. They were shocked. Cynthia and Elaine discovered – for the first time ever – that the Health and Human Services...made misrepresentations and/or concealed material facts regarding A.H."

The attorney for the adoptive parents, Shawn McMillan, said he could not comment on the case. McMillan also represented the two minor children who sued the county for their past abuse.

The County of San Diego also declined to comment, stating, "we have not seen the lawsuit."

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