Family of bleach-burned foster child sues foster insurance fund

By Michelle Durand/ Daily Journal
Prior to a South San Francisco foster mom burning a 20-month ward with bleach-soaked diapers, the licensed home had received more than a dozen allegations of child abuse or neglect, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the injured girl.
The accusations against Patricia Moore and the Moore Foster Home, which was licensed in San Mateo County to accept medically fragile infants, include housing children in a cold basement, withholding food from them as punishment, extreme diaper rashes and sexual abuse, stated the suit filed on behalf of the minor A.J. through her guardian Chantel Johnson against the Foster Family Home and Small Family Home Insurance Fund.
The fund pays claims of foster children, parents and guardians filed in relation to foster services. Johnson is also suing Moore and her family, the city and county of San Francisco and San Mateo County but that piece is in federal court.
The civil case stems from the care and injuries of A.J., an 8-month-old a medically fragile infant removed from her parents in San Francisco and placed in Moore’s care in 2009. In August 2010, South San Francisco police arrested Moore after Kaiser Medical Center staff reported a toddler was brought in by Moore’s daughter, Coi, with first- and second-degree burns on her buttocks. According to prosecutors, Moore later told authorities she used bleach-soaked diapers to clean the child who soiled herself quite often. Doctors allegedly noted the burns were in a waffle pattern like that of diaper fabric. Moore allegedly also could not explain why, if the girl had been bathed, she didn’t have burns on other parts of her body that would have been submerged, such as her legs.
In May 2011, Judge Richard Livermore dismissed the abuse case against Moore citing insufficient evidence but in fall 2012 prosecutors successfully asked a criminal grand jury to indict on felony charges of willful cruelty to a child and infliction of injury on a child. The case settled in 2013 with Moore, 68, being allowed to plead no contest to misdemeanor child endangerment with the caveat she receive a 20-day suspended sentence and not serve any time. She was ordered to complete a year of child abuse treatment, placed on three years supervised probation and prohibited from caring for future foster children.
An endangerment charge means a person is accused of acting negligently in a way that is likely to result in physical injury or death rather than acting more knowingly, such as a deliberate blow.
But according to Johnson’s lawsuit filed March 13 in San Mateo County Superior Court, the burned toddler was not the only incident in which Moore and her foster home allegedly neglected of injured children in its care. The suit claims at least 13 allegations include complaints of failure to properly wash, clean and feed children and failing to take them to medical appointments or give them prescribed medication. The suit states that medical professionals, social workers and psychotherapists raised the complaints which included numerous and severe diaper rashes, unexplained bruising and neglect of medical care but that San Francisco social workers knowingly left A.J. in the Moore home for nearly a year. During this time, according to the suit, A.J. had several diaper rashes and another infant was removed in February 2010 for a “severe” diaper rash that raised red flags for one social worker about Moore’s care.
Another foster infant had bruising which led the biological mother to contact police and Moore admitted to not giving A.J. her prescribed medication, the suit stated.
The day after the Aug. 17, 2010, bleach burns, Moore’s daughter, who was not a licensed caregiver took the child to the hospital, the suit stated.
In totality, “Moore severely neglected A.J. while she was in her care, causing A.J.’s development to be stunted and harming her mentally, physically and emotionally,” attorney Gerald Singleton wrote in the suit.
Moore could not be reached for comment and Susan J. Kawala, the California Attorney General’s Office attorney representing the fund, did not return an inquiry.
A case management conference is scheduled for May 22.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102