Complaint filed against DSHS on behalf of child abused by Kirkland foster mom

A complaint has been filed against the State of Washington in King County Superior Court on behalf of a foster child who was abused by his Kirkland foster mother.

The complaint is against the state but specifically targets the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which is the department that oversees foster children and foster homes.

The child was placed into a Kirkland foster home under the care of David and Tonja Maciolek on Oct. 6, 2012, less than a month after his second birthday, and remained there for nearly a year, until Aug. 15, 2013.

According to the complaint, a DSHS social worker entered a case note on Jan. 31, 2013, that stated, according to Tonja Maciolek, the child “bruised very easily” and may need treatment for anemia.

A May 3, 2013, case note mentioned that the child’s maternal aunt, who had been allowed to visit her nephew at the Kirkland foster home, had expressed concerns about the foster parents’ treatment of the child and the “caretakers have determined they can no longer allow (the aunt) to come to the home.”

On May 10, 2013, Maciolek brought the child to the emergency room at EvergreenHealth. She said the child had an un-witnessed fall a few days prior and was complaining about pain. A doctor diagnosed the child with a supracondylar fracture to his left elbow. During a follow-up visit on May 16, 2013, the child told Dr. Jeffrey Stickney, “Mommy did it.”

DSHS received a letter from Stickney relaying his concerns on May 21.

“We will have to keep this in the back of our mind if he has any further injuries,” the letter states.

In June 2013, a DSHS social worker noted that the child had an observable bump on his head.

In late July/early August 2013, the child arrived at his daycare with a bandage on the bridge of his nose and two black eyes. A teacher asked Maciolek about the injuries, and she said the boy was “hit in the face with a baseball bat” and called him a “tough guy.”

In August 2013, the boy returned to EvergreenHealth with an injury to his mouth. A doctor noted an abrasion on his nose and a torn frenulum (a fold of skin between the lip and the gum). That month, a DSHS social worker entered a case note where the Macioleks alleged the boy would hurt himself to get attention. His low weight was also noted on a few occasions, and the foster mom explained it was due to anemia, parasites, celiac disease or some kind of metabolic disorder.

On Aug. 15, 2013, the child arrived at Seattle Children’s Hospital following an emergency transport from EvergreenHealth. Doctors discovered bleeding within the boy’s skull and a hemorrhage of blood on his scalp. They also found a subdural hematoma, which is blood between the covering of the brain and the brain, on the child’s right frontal lobe, and swelling. The boy also had a hematoma, or abnormal swelling of clotted blood, on the left scalp.

Doctors also noted he had bruises of varying color and size all over his body and he was underweight. They performed a skeletal survey, which revealed fractures in various stages of healing on both arms and fingers on his right hand. The doctors reported the extent of the child’s bruising was not consistent with falling or normal child’s play.

A hospital social worker observed that Tonja Maciolek didn’t interact with the child, expressing little emotion or concern other than getting the boy home. She called the boy a “brat” with challenging behavior.

A dietician at the hospital found that the child had protein-energy malnutrition related to social environment and probable limited feeding. The nurses at the hospital described the child’s eating as “voracious” and noted his weight status improved while there. Testing established the boy had no metabolic condition or disease to cause malnourishment.

A hospital social worker contacted DSHS to inform them of the boy’s hospitalization, and they did not provide an immediate employee response to the hospital due to the late hour.

Kirkland Police Department (KPD) Det. Dave Quiggle responded to the hospital, where he described the boy as emaciated and in pain.

“I have never seen a child with such significant bruising,” he wrote. “This was the most extensive bruising and external trauma I have ever seen in person, absent child abuse photos and videos presented in child abuse training classes I have attended.”

Upon being released from the hospital, the boy was placed with a new foster family, and he started to disclose some of the abuse he suffered. He said Tonja Maciolek hit him hard with a spoon, twisted his arm and banged his head into the wall.

The KPD investigated the abuse, and the King County Prosecutor’s Office filed felony charges against the foster mother. On March 10, 2016, Maciolek pled guilty to second-degree assault. On June 28, 2016, she was sentenced to nine months in jail.

The child is no longer in the custody and care of DSHS; he lives with his maternal aunt, who has adopted him.

The complaint for personal injuries filed on behalf of the boy claims the State of Washington is liable for the injuries he suffered as a result of its “negligent licensing of the Macioleks as foster parents, its negligent supervision of the Maciolek foster home, and its negligent investigation into reports of abuse in the Maciolek home.”

The complaint was filed last month by attorney Cheryl Snow of the Law Offices of James S. Rogers.

“This is a clear case of DSHS social workers ignoring all of the red flags,” Snow said in a statement. “This boy is lucky to be alive. It was immediately clear to this boy’s extended family, law enforcement and Children’s Hospital doctors and social workers that this boy was in danger.”

The Reporter reached out to the DSHS for comment, and media relations manager Norah West said the DSHS “does not comment on pending litigation.”