San Diego

County Pays $3M To Settle Sexual Abuse and Privacy Claims Filed by Twins in Foster Care

This story has been updated.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a $3-million settlement of two lawsuits filed by twin brothers who were placed in foster care with a man who admitted he sexually abused them.

The victims' attorney said his clients hope the settlement and publicity about the case will help prevent similar abuses in the county's foster care system.

County Supervisors approved the payment, which covers attorneys fees for the plaintiffs, on August 7, but the case was not formally settled until last week.

Shawn McMillan, the victims' attorney, said county caseworkers were made aware of accusations of abuse by the twins' foster father, Michael Hayes, but didn't pursue them further.

"You look a little deeper and the reason the allegations were found inconclusive was because the investigator made one attempt to make contact, couldn't make contact and just [circular filed it]," he said.

McMillan says his clients are ready to put this episode of their lives behind them, but McMillan believes there could be more victims because Hayes fostered other children.

"There were other kids that went through his home, and they're out there," he said.

"This is our most vulnerable population, this is our future," McMillan said. "You've got to treat them like that. They're valuable. And what my clients would really like to see, is some systemic change to make sure what happened to them doesn't ever happen again."

The two victims are now adults.

McMillan said he also hopes county social welfare workers will provide them the services and support they need in the next few years before they officially exit the system.

Minutes of the Board's August 7th closed session action confirm the settlement amount. The vote was 4-0. Supervisor Dianne Jacob was absent for the vote.

After voting to pay the settlement, County Supervisors Greg Cox and Ron Roberts decided to form a working group that will review the child welfare system to ensure the health and safety of youth in foster care.

That group is scheduled to provide a full report by November and recommendations to the Board of Supervisors by December.

Update - September 26: This story was updated to include the amount of the settlement and details about the settlement approval process by the County Board of Supervisors. 

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