Foster children placed in 'house of horrors' sue state

TACOMA, Wash. -- Four foster children want the state to pay for allowing them to live in a home where they were sexually and physically abused for years.

"It's truly a house of horrors," said Jeremy Johnston, an attorney representing the foster children of Jose and Juanita Miranda.

Jose pleaded guilty several years ago to child rape, molestation and physical abuse of the three young boys and two young girls who came to live with them at their Tacoma home from 1997 to 2003.

Johnston described the man as "a foster parent forcing kids to engage in just graphic sexual acts with him, and forcing the kids to engage with each other in graphic sexual acts.:

The newly-filed suit claims Juanita knew about the sex and did nothing to stop it, and she physically and mentally abused the foster kids. One girl told investigators the children were often locked in the basement and forced to wear diapers.

"She was forced to eat food that had expired. And on one occasion when she vomited from it, she was forced to eat her own vomit from the food," Johnston said.

The foster parents are now gone. Jose died in prison two years ago of heart failure. Juanita died of a drug overdose in 2006.

The suit claims Juanita's extensive criminal record in Washington and California should have prevented them from ever getting a state foster care license. And when reports of abuse surfaced, the suit says DSHS reported them as unfounded.

"Obviously if people were doing their job, they would have removed these kids much sooner or never would have licensed this home," Johnston said.

The state Department of Social and Health Services refused to comment on the 87-page lawsuit.

The suit currently only involves four of the children. The youngest child, who is still a minor, is not a party in the suit.

The Mirandas' own daughter may join the suit later this year, alleging she, too, was abused by her own parents, Johnston said.