$25 million lawsuit filed against foster parents, Alabama DHR in sex abuse case

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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Four foster children who lived with foster parents accused of rape and sexual abuse filed lawsuits Thursday seeking $25 million in damages against the accused parents and the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

The lawsuits filed in Lauderdale County claim DHR and its employees failed to take appropriate action against Jenise and Daniel Spurgeon, who Birmingham attorney Tommy James said subjected his clients to sexual and physical abuse, rape, starvation, and neglect.

Daniel Spurgeon is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of child rape, one count of sexual torture and 11 counts of aggravated child abuse. Jenise Spurgeon’s trial is set for April; she’s accused of choking and hitting the children and denying them medical care.

The Spurgeons were foster parents approved by Alabama DHR in 2004; they lived in Florence until 2015.

Their case came to light in 2016, after the Spurgeons moved to Florida. Three teens found intoxicated in a Cape Coral fast food restaurant told police their father had given them alcohol. The call led to an investigation that turned up accounts of molestation and physical abuse.

The lawsuits claim DHR workers “failed to act upon numerous red flags” during the years the Spurgeons fostered and adopted the plaintiffs and other children.

“My clients lived a daily nightmare because DHR workers failed to do their jobs and it is appalling that DHR allowed this to happen,” James said in a news release. “It is incomprehensible that this abuse went on for years right under the nose of DHR workers. They ignored clear and repeated signs of child abuse and neglect that resulted in emotional and physical consequences that my clients will live with forever.”