APRIL K. v. Boston Children's Service Ass'n, Civ. A. No. 83-0345-C.

Decision Date16 March 1984
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 83-0345-C.
Citation581 F. Supp. 711
PartiesAPRIL K., et al., Plaintiffs, v. The BOSTON CHILDREN'S SERVICE ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts

Elizabeth M. Jones, Roxbury, Mass., for plaintiffs.

Jeremy A. Stahlin, Stahlin & Bergstresser, Inc., Boston, Mass., William J. Dailey, Sloane & Walsh, Boston, Mass., for defendants.


CAFFREY, Chief Judge.

This is a civil action for damages and injunctive relief ostensibly brought under the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs are Frances K., her two minor sons, Charles K. and James K., her daughter, April K. and April K.'s minor son, Antonio K.1 The defendants in this suit are The Boston Children's Services Association ("BCSA"), the Board of Trustees of the BCSA, Nancy Jane Carmel, Director of Social Services at the BCSA, and Joyce Rabson, a social worker associated with the BCSA. Plaintiffs allege that the Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343(3), (4). The case is before the Court on defendants' motion for summary judgment.

After hearing I find and rule that an examination of the record reveals that the facts of this case are not in dispute. In the spring of 1982, teachers at a day care center became concerned about certain sexual behavior exhibited by Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, minor daughters of Debra K. Debra K. is the daughter of plaintiff Frances K. and sister of plaintiffs April, Charles and James K. The teachers reported the conduct to the girls' paternal grandmother who had custody of them at that time. When the children's conduct did not change, the teachers contacted an investigator who had been appointed by the Boston Juvenile Court ("BJC") during a previous care and protection hearing concerning the two girls. The investigator, Ms. Harrington, referred the matter to the Tufts New England Medical Center Sexual Abuse Treatment Team ("TNEMC"), where the girls were interviewed by a social worker, Margaret Myer. During the interview, the girls indicated that they had engaged in certain sexual behavior with their uncles, James and Charles K., and their cousin, Antonio K. Consequently, on October 7, 1982, Ms. Myer, on behalf of the TNEMC, caused a report to be filed with the Department of Social Services ("DSS") under the provisions of M.G.L. c. 119, § 51A, finding reasonable cause to believe that Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 had been subjected to sexual abuse and/or neglect.

As a result, the next day the DSS concluded that it would be appropriate to investigate whether there was "neglect" within the meaning of M.G.L. c. 119, § 51A, with respect to Charles, James, and Antonio K. Because Frances K., the mother of James and Charles and the grandmother of Antonio, was an employee of DSS, the investigation was referred to the BCSA.

A social worker employed by defendant BCSA contacted Debra K., the mother of Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, as well as the paternal grandmother of the girls. Both denied knowledge of the events. The social worker then contacted Frances K., who was upset about the investigation. She also denied any knowledge of the events. The same social worker interviewed Ms. Harrington of the BJC and Ms. Myer of TNEMC, who reported the prior history of the complaints being investigated.

At this same time, Joyce Rabson, a social worker associated with the BCSA, was assigned to conduct an investigation into the allegations. Ms. Rabson contacted April K., mother of Antonio K. Initially, April K. refused to cooperate with the social worker. Frances K., April's mother, also refused to cooperate until such time as a "complete file" setting forth all names, dates and times of the alleged activities was produced. She was informed that she would not receive the information because it was privileged under state law.

Several weeks later, however, April K. consented to a meeting between herself, her mother and the social worker. At that meeting, April K. allowed her son Antonio to be interviewed by Ms. Rabson for approximately ten minutes. The child told the social worker only that he, Jane Doe 1, and Jane Doe 2 played together. April K. then became upset and terminated the interview. Ms. Rabson made several attempts to set up further interviews with April K. and Frances K., but received no positive response.

On or about November 8, 1982, Ms. Myer of the TNEMC filed a "neglect" report concerning Antonio K. with the DSS pursuant to M.G.L. c. 119, § 51A. In January 1983, defendant Carmel, the BCSA's Director of Social Services, filed a similar report concerning Charles and James K.

Plaintiffs allege in their complaint that the defendants, while acting in their capacities as social workers, and never having met or seen the plaintiffs, (1) "wrongfully, willfully and maliciously dominated, intimidated and interfered with the families of April K. and Frances K. through threats and the illegal use of M.G.L. c. 119, §§ 51A-51B;" (2) "interfered with the employment relationship of Frances K. by making false statements to her employer about the sexual activity of her children and the quality of her home life;" and (3) "slandered and libeled plaintiffs by telling the Department of Social Services and others, both orally and in a written report, that Antonio, Charles and James K. are sexually maladjusted and that the homes of Frances and April K. require intervention within the meaning of M.G.L. c. 119, §§ 51A-51B."2 On the...

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4 cases
  • Care and Protection of Robert
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • July 16, 1990
    ...to believe' has been interpreted to mean 'known or suspected instances of child abuse and neglect.' " April K. v. Boston Children's Serv. Ass'n, 581 F.Supp. 711, 713 (D.Mass.1984), quoting Rep. A.G. Pub.Doc. No. 12, at 157 (June 16, 1975). See Mattingly v. Casey, 24 Mass.App.Ct. 452, 456, 5......
  • Mattingly v. Casey
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • October 1, 1987
    ...element of judgment to separate an incident from a pattern, the trivial from the serious. See, however, April K. v. Boston Children's Serv. Assn., 581 F.Supp. 711, 713 (D.Mass.1984) (suspected instances of child abuse and neglect subsumed within the phrase "reasonable cause to believe"). Bo......
  • Ennels v. Alabama Inns Associates
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Alabama
    • March 16, 1984
    ... ... Civ. A. Nos. 80-152-N, 83-H-1449-N ... United States ... black person in offering or furnishing service at Adam's in Montgomery, Alabama." Plaintiffs in ... ...
  • L.A.R. v. Ludwig, 1
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • November 21, 1991
    ...statutes have reached the similar conclusion that a pre-report investigation is not required. See April K. v. Boston Children's Service Assoc., 581 F.Supp. 711 (D.C.Mass.1984); Gross v. Myers, 229 Mont. 509, 748 P.2d 459 (1987); Brozovich v. Circle C Group Homes, Inc., 120 Pa.Cmwlth. 417, 5......

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