Orange County to Pay $4.5 Million to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Social Services Failed to Report Child Sex Abuse

Orange County to Pay $4.5 Million to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Social Services Failed to Report Child Sex Abuse

The Orange County Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, Calif., on Sept. 18, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

8/8/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

Orange County, California, will pay $4.5 million to settle a lawsuit that claims the county’s social services failed to report a 2011 child sex abuse complaint.
Supervisors voted 4–1 to settle the lawsuit in a closed session meeting July 25, with Supervisor Don Wagner dissenting.
The case revolves around an Orange County mother who began to suspect in 2011 that her children, then 5 and 1, were being sexually abused by Alex Beltran, a friend of the children’s father.
The mother reported her allegations to the county’s Department of Social Services, but the social worker discounted her claims and did not file an abuse report with the court—a move that the mother claimed led to the sexual abuse continuing for six more years, according to court documents.
In 2017, Mr. Beltran was arrested for sexually molesting a minor and is currently awaiting trial on 26 counts of sexual abuse that allegedly took place between 2000 and 2017.
Shortly after Mr. Beltran’s arrest, the plaintiff filed the lawsuit.
Chris Taylor, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the family had lost faith in the social welfare system, but said the settlement would ensure the children involved receive psychological care.
“The conclusion of this case ... makes plaintiffs and their mother hopeful the young men can now live as thriving teenagers instead of victims,” Mr. Taylor told the Orange County Register, adding that he hopes the settlement “makes them hopeful this won’t happen to anyone else.”
Supervisor Wagner voted against the settlement because he said the amount was too large, according to the Register.
“I felt that the argument that the county had done something wrong that justified paying such a large settlement was very weak,” Mr. Wagner said.
Supervisor Katrina Foley said she voted for the settlement because she thought the failure to report the claim caused the family harm, according to the Register.
She added that much has changed within the county agency and state laws to better protect children.
“What I want to see, always, is that we protect kids,” Ms. Foley said. “When we have complaints that we thoroughly investigate, that we cross-report when there is a suspicion of child abuse and that we make sure that the law enforcement investigate if necessary.”
Orange County Supervisors, as well as the plaintiff’s attorney, were not immediately available for comment.
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

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Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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