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Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, P.A. Secures $3.5 Million Settlement in Arizona DCS Sexual Abuse Case

Recently, Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, P.A. secured a $3.5 million settlement for a brave survivor of sexual abuse. According to NBC 12 in Phoenix, Arizona, the abuse that a then-7-year-old Jane ZM Doe suffered at the hands of a sex offender was the result of the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) failure to properly investigate a foster home before sending Jane ZM Doe to live there. In addition to the $3.5 million settlement “Jane ZM Doe” received, the sexual predator who molested her was convicted in a criminal case and is serving 20 years in prison.

Jane ZM Doe’s Story

In November 2015, a then-6-year-old Jane ZM Doe was placed in a foster home in Surprise, Arizona. According to NBC 12, it was the home of a convicted, level three registered sex offender named Jose Egurolla. Egurolla had been convicted of molesting his own children in 1997 and his information was in the sex-offender database before the State of Arizona placed the child in the foster.

Fast forward to April 2016. A then-6-year-old Jane ZM Doe, her foster parents, and Jose Egurolla moved to a home in Avondale. Egurolla does as he’s supposed to and updates his address with the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Sex Offender Registry. Still, no red flags are raised with Arizona DCS. A second time, Arizona DCS failed to check the foster home address on the publicly available sex offender database.

Tragically, a month after, Egurolla molested Jane ZM Doe in the middle of the night. DNA samples were used to prove sexual abuse and Jose Egurolla was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

How Arizona DCS Allowed the Abuse

How could DCS place a 6-year-old child in the same home as a convicted, registered sex offender? Negligence. That’s how. After filing a lawsuit against Arizona DCS for a guardian who was pursuing legal action on behalf of Jane ZM Doe, Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, P.A. was able to hold Arizona DCS and its caseworkers accountable. The lawsuit named Arizona DCS and three Arizona DCS employees in the lawsuit.

According to NBC 12, Arizona DCS employees failed to perform an adequate investigation of the foster home before placing Jane ZM Doe in the foster home. In addition, the Arizona DCS employees allegedly failed to check the foster home’s address against the sex offender database prior to placing Jane ZM Doe in the foster home. If Arizona DCS had done its job to protect the child, Arizona DCS caseworkers would have discovered that Jose Egurolla, a convicted sex offender, registered the home as his residence and was living at the foster home when Arizona DCS placed the child at the home.

The State of Arizona’s negligent failure to protect this child is completely unacceptable. Unfortunately, this type of tragedy happens more often than many realize. Arizona’s child welfare system is overwhelmed. There are too many cases, too many children and Arizona DCS does not have the staffing, training, and resources to protect Arizona’s children.

While the settlement that Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, P.A. recovered for Jane ZM Doe cannot change what happened to her, it can help prevent it from happening to other children in the future. As Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, P.A. attorney Robert Pastor told NBC 12, “This isn't just about one child. It's trying to raise a flag and shine a light on all the other children that no one else is paying attention to, including DCS.”

Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, P.A. Fights to Keep Kids Safe

Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, P.A. has been fighting for the rights of sexual abuse victims for years. Nothing means more to us than protecting our clients and making sure their voices are heard. By helping survivors of sexual abuse use their voices, the lawyers at Montoya, Lucero & Pastor expose the truth and make youth-serving organizations safer for all children.

Whenever you’re ready, we’re here for you. You are not alone in the fight for justice. To discuss your situation with our experienced sexual abuse attorneys in Arizona, give us a call at (602) 483-6869 or contact us online today to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay unless we win.