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Abused ex-Laurelton kin want to settle city lawsuit

Judith Leekin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for abusing her adoptive children and illegally taking money from the city. Photo courtesy Sheriff of St. Lucie County Florida
TimesLedger Newspapers

The attorney representing the 10 adopted siblings who were abused by their Laurelton mother for two decades is pushing for a settlement package for their lawsuit against the city Administration for Children’s Services and two other adoption agencies, a published report revealed.

The attorney representing Judith Leekin’s foster children proposed the $68 million settlement in the civil rights action lawsuit that was filed nearly three years ago in Brooklyn federal court against ACS and two private adoption agencies, The New York Times reported.

Leekin, a former Laurelton resident, was arrested in 2007 in Florida after the authorities discovered she had been abusing the siblings, whose ages range from 19 to 28, inside her home and had been illegally collecting New York City subsidies that were meant to be used to take care of the 11 adoptees.

One of the foster children has been missing since her arrest and has never turned up. Three adoption agencies were involved with Leekin, but one is now defunct, according to the suit.

The Times cited a sealed court document that was given to Federal Magistrate Judge Marilyn D. Go back in October that proposed the huge settlement to help pay for the damages caused when Leekin kept the siblings out of school, tied them up and physically abused them after she adopted the plaintiffs in the 1980s and ’90s.

All of the siblings have severe mental problems and many had reading levels of middle school children, according to the authorities.

The city Law Department declined to comment about the pending litigation.

Robert S. Delmond, the attorney representing the adoption agencies HeartShare Human Services of New York and SCO Family of Services, could not be reached for comment but wrote to the judge that the settlement was “a significant sum, which requires much consideration, thought, planning and involvement of corporate officers before they can reach a decision,” according to the Times.

Leekin pleaded guilty in 2008 in New York and Florida to abusing the children and illegally taking state subsidies and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. As part of her sentence, she was ordered to pay $1.68 million in restitution and forfeit her two Florida houses.

The foster siblings’ attorney contended that the city did not properly vet Leekin when it approved the adoptions. She had used several aliases and lied on her applications to take care of the siblings.

A state law was enacted in 1999 that requires prospective parents who want to adopt children to provide fingerprints and go through an extensive process that includes interviews and a home study, but Leekin had moved out of Laurelton in 1997.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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