Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Child Abuse: Father of child who died from horrific abuse, files lawsuit against Florida Department of Children and Families

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Jan. 3, 2011 -- Blake Rupe, 15 months old, passed away on December 16, 2008 as the result of horrific child abuse, which unfortunately could have been prevented. The Personal Representative of the Estate of Blake Rupe and Brian Fore, the father of the child and his 4-year-old surviving sister, have now filed a lawsuit against DCF and other involved agencies and named David Spicer and Stephen K. Miller as case attorneys.

The errors by DCF unfortunately did not end after this tragedy. Coincidentally, months after Blake's death on the same day that David Tatara, the live in boyfriend of Blake's mother, was charged with 2nd degree murder and aggravated child abuse, DCF mailed Tatara a letter stating that "the Department determined that there are no indications of bone fracture, failure to protect, physical injury, death or inadequate supervision."

"It is very concerning to me that a DCF letter is mailed out almost four months after a child in its care has already passed away," Miller said. "It makes you wonder if anyone is really monitoring these files closely, or if computers are entrusted to track children and generate form letters."

DCF admitted fault through Spokesperson Carol Hoeppner, in several interviews shortly after the tragedy. "We know we could have done more. We know we have an obligation to do more," said Hoeppner. In January 2009, a case manager and supervisor with a contracted agency were also fired.

Attorneys Miller and Spicer are determined to do everything possible to ensure that all those involved in the negligent handling of this case that resulted in this tragedy are held accountable. "Nothing anyone can do will ever bring that baby boy back, but we are going to do all we can to ensure that DCF and its contracted agencies never let this happen again to any other child," said Miller.

According to state and county records, reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel in July 2009, more than 70 case workers were caught falsifying records and lying about their on-the-job-efforts to protect children.

Miller and Spicer stated that they are dedicated to "thoroughly investigating this tragic case" and making certain "that there are no stones left unturned."

Fore hopes that the death of his son will not be forgotten and will help to serve a larger purpose.

SOURCE Law Offices of Spicer and Miller, P.L.