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Grand Jury Says New York Foster Care System Endangers Children

Former Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota
Frank Eltman
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota holds a special grand jury report in his Hauppauge, N.Y., office that documents findings about the foster care system in New York State.

A damning report from a grand jury in New York accuses the state's foster care system of endangering children. The jury found that the state's poor regulations and bureaucracy allowed an alleged predator access to disabled boys for nearly 20 years.

The grand jury was impaneled to investigate one foster care father, but what they found was a system riddled with holes. Despite 18 separate child abuse investigations, this parent was paid $1.5 million to take in 106 boys. The foster father is charged with sexually assaulting eight of those boys. The grand jury described New York's patchwork of oversight as a communication nightmare.

Marcia Robinson Lowry is a child advocate lawyer currently suing the state for similar lapses. Lowry said, "The state of foster care in this country is not excellent, but certainly New York State and New York City are among the worst in the country."

The grand jury report recommends administrative changes and new laws that extend the statute of limitations for sexual abuse crimes.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.