Judge awards 8-year-old girl in foster care $485 million in sexual assault case

RIO ARRIBA COUNTY, New Mexico — Judge awards $485 million to 8-year-old girl in foster care in Rio Arriba County sexual assault case. According to court documents, the child was repeatedly raped by her former adoptive parent, Clarence Garcia. Garcia, 66, pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal association with a minor.

“It was a very angry jury. This jury was trying to send a message. That message was, if you’re going to engage in this kind of behavior, if you’re going to let little victims suffer like this, you’re going to pay,” said KOAT legal analyst John Day.

Familyworks, a former non-profit company, placed the minor in Garcia’s care. The company is permanently closed. Familyworks is licensed by the Department of Children, Youth and Family Affairs. According to Familyworks, its mission was to treat and place in foster families children and young people with “severe emotional disorders” between the ages of 4 and 21.

However, court documents show that Familyworks was aware of the sexual abuse allegations against Garcia before placing the 8-year-old in his care.

“The jurors were like, ‘Look, you knew or should have known about this, and you’re responsible if you’re going into this kind of business involving children’s lives,'” Day said. “It is simply unacceptable to have this level of negligence leading to such a tragic situation.”

The 70-page lawsuit alleges that the company’s negligence resulted in the sexual abuse of an 8-year-old girl and violated the Foster Care and Adoption Act, which was passed for the safety and well-being of the public.

CYFD Statement:

“Despite the fact that Familyworks was licensed by the CYFD, the department did not appear as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Jessica Preston, CYFD spokeswoman, sent a statement to KOAT, specifically:

“We are aware of the disturbing allegations regarding Familyworks adoptive parents. We take all allegations with the utmost seriousness and will always work alongside law enforcement and all relevant agencies to investigate any allegations. The Department of Children, Youth and Families is taking and will continue to take appropriate action to hold individuals and agencies dealing with children accountable and to protect children in the care of the New Mexico Foster Care System.”

Garcia was sentenced to 20 years probation. However, he is accused of violating probation. Garcia’s sentencing hearing will take place on August 3, 2023.

“The judges take this seriously. They don’t like it when people on probation break the rules. You have a civil jury that is angry, and now they have to meet with a judge who is probably also very angry. violated his probation, I’m guessing the judge is going to throw him a book given everything that’s happened so far,” Day said.

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