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State of Washington, Triumph Treatment Services Under Fire in New Lawsuit

— March 15, 2019

The state of Washington and Triumph Treatment Services are under fire in a new suit alleging it failed to supervise a mother who nearly starved her twin daughter’s to death.

Two young girls are filing a lawsuit against the state of Washington and a for-profit substance-abuse treatment provider over allegations that the defendants failed to properly supervise their mother, Kai Martinez when they were in her custody. It’s important to note that when the twin girls were in their mother’s custody, they were almost starved to death.

The suit itself was filed earlier this week in Thurston County Superior Court against Washington’s Department of Children, Youth and Families, and Triumph Treatment Services. Attorneys Vito de la Cruz, Bryan G. Smith, and the twin’s legal guardian filed the suit on behalf of the girls.

Image of the Washington State Capitol in Olympia
Washington State Capitol in Olympia; image courtesy of User:Cacophony via Wikimedia Commons,

What happened, though? According to the suit, Martinez kept her daughters “confined to their bedrooms without access to a toilet” and food. Eventually, an investigation was launched and the girls were found “huddled in the corner of a dark room, starving and surrounded by their own filth.” It wasn’t state officials that discovered the girls “frightened and hugging each other,” though. It was Martinez’s sister, Simona Long. According to reports from Long, the girls “appeared to be in poor health and were very malnourished, emaciated, skeletal, frail and pale…everything in the room smelled of urine.”

Shortly after, Martinez was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2015 on charges of “torturing and starving her daughters.” The suit argues that if the children’s welfare and treatment facility had done their job by regularly checking up on Martinez, the unfortunate incident never would have happened.

Prior to the incident, Martinez had a track record of substance abuse. Even while she was pregnant with the twin girls Martinez used methamphetamine, tobacco, and other illegal drugs. Their father is currently in prison over murder charges.

It’s important to note that the girls weren’t always in their mother’s custody. Following their birth, the girls were put in the foster care system for seven years, where they were well cared for. However, they were eventually sent to live with Martinez, “even though she didn’t want them.”

When commenting on the case, Smith said the “state’s intentions were good, but the lack of follow-up is disturbing.” He added:

“If the state rips those kids out of the foster home (and) puts the kids back with their parents, it’s the state’s responsibility to make sure that it is a safe choice. We want to reunite families, we want families to be together, but we don’t want to do that at the expense of the health and safety of the child.”

Smith is angry that the abuse and neglect was allowed to go on as long as it did and believes the department should be “held accountable for what it didn’t do and wants to make sure this never happens again.” He said:

“To take these young girls, who were in a safe and loving home, and put them in a home where they were in danger. To close the file and to not follow up, check up on their health and safety and welfare, that is a breach in the standard.”

For now, the twins have been placed back in foster care, though they will likely suffer emotional damage for the rest of their lives.


State watchdog failed twin girls starved by their mother, lawsuit says

Twin girls were starved by mother, failed by state watchdog: Lawsuit filed

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