A 9-year old girl named Cheyenne Lewis will receive $4m from the state of Washington.
The child was found living in sordid conditions in 2015. Lewis’s mother and boyfriend had kept her and two siblings locked up in a dilapidated and patently disgusting Lake Stevens home.
KOMO News reports how law enforcement officers reacted after being called by a concerned woman.
“We actually took turns kind of stepping outside for a second to kind of get ourselves together a little bit,” said Sgt. Robert Miner of the Lake Stevens Police force.
Miner’s discomfort had a clear cause – Lewis was living atop a wet carpet in a house littered with bedbugs. The electricity had long since been disconnected and there was no food in the cupboards or refrigerator.
Perhaps most shocking were the buckets full of human excrement which were purportedly scattered around the property.
A baby was found in a room containing little other than beer cans, mold, and strewn-about pieces of garbage.
Sgt. Miner was the first to find the infant.
“At first I thought that the child wasn’t alive, so I kind of reached in and touched him, and finally at the last second, his eyes started moving,” the officer recalled.
The baby was suffering from hypothermia.
The absent parents – Amanda Foley and Mark Dorson – were both convicted felons.
In court, Foley admitted that she was pregnant again and addicted to methamphetamine.
However, the near-tragedy could have been averted much earlier – a lawsuit filed against the Washing State Department of Social and Health Services unveiled scores of interactions with Foley and Dorson, few of which could be framed positively.
Throughout 2011, DSHS was called to the residence on several occasions.
One time, a caller reported that Foley was sexually involved with her half-brother, James Gilligan, and that drugs were present in the home.
Half a year later, a concerned relative told Child Protective Services that Gilligan had thrown Cheyenne’s 4-month old brother against a wall. The baby was still strapped into a car seat, but the adult’s intent was clear – he was allegedly screaming at Foley to “get rid of the damn baby” all the while.
Complaints continued to come in to the DSHS and CPS in subsequent years.
Even after Foley tested positive for meth after giving birth to another child, Cheyenne Lewis and her siblings were never taken into protective custody.
— Molly Shen (@MollyShenKOMO) February 22, 2017
“The specificity in the complaints is extremely graphic,” said attorney David P. Moody. “They were talking about food deprivation, about Cheyenne not getting bathed, about being left alone without parental supervision for days and days and days at a time.”
After Dorson and Foley were arrested, Lewis’s father, Kevin Lewis, filed a suit against the state – the man said he’d never known he had a daughter with Foley until hearing the news of her arrest.
“It’s just disgusting to know that your kid grew up for seven years in filth. And no one did nothing about it,” said the elder Lewis, who sued the state along with his wife.
The $4m award will be put into a trust fund for the now 9-year old Cheyenne. She’s since moved in with her biological father and his spouse.
“I’m hoping she has a normal life after this,” Lewis said. “She deserves it.”