October 22, 2012
CHARLESTON — A lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia concerning violations of individual, fundamental civil and parental rights by a Boone County mother and her new husband.
Brandy Stewart (formerly Mullins) and Johnny Stewart have filed the lawsuit against several defendants regarding the removal of the couple’s children in June of 2010 for allegedly not properly taking care and protecting the safety of their children.
The couple’s children were removed and placed in a foster with an alleged sexual offender that was a minor child.
Although the mother complied with completing all ordered duties by the court, her children remained in the state’s custody and prolonged the effort to keep them separated rather than reunify the family.
Details of the lawsuit show that while the parents were suffering at the hands of authorities, the children were suffering at the hands of social workers, the foster parent, therapists, foster care agencies, and even being allegedly harassed by the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.
In a 21 page document filed in Federal Court the couple asserts that the defendants violated their constitutional rights and accuse the defendants of civil rights violations by state actor, unlawful governmental taking, unlawful seizure and false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unlawful seizure, malicious prosecution and abuse of process, negligent training and supervision, and fraud.
“Since the beginning of the initial civil abuse and neglect action, Plaintiffs have been continually deprived of their fundamental rights as a family, as well as citizens of this state and nation,” the lawsuit said. “Finally, without continued false allegations, misrepresentation and State sponsored thuggery facilitated by state actors in conjunction with the lack of due diligence.”
According to the lawsuit, Brandy Stewart fled her former marital home with nothing but her children to escape escalating domestic violence and threats made against her and the children by her then-husband. She then went to the Logan County Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to apply for “homeless benefits.”
While at the Logan County DHHR, staff at the agency claimed Brandy Stewart was unable to keep track of her three minor children, fill out the paperwork in an intelligent and expedient manner, or discipline her three minor children.
The Logan County DHHR then contact the Boone County DHHR and a Boone County Child Protective Service supervisor took Brandy Stewart’s three minor children from her custody.
The children were then placed in a foster home that allegedly housed a known sexual offender, which was also a minor child.
After Brandy Stewart married Johnny Stewart, the couple had a child that was taken from their custody three days after the child was born.
Brandy Stewart alleges that she was told by state actors repeatedly she “would never get her children back if she didn’t get rid of Johnny Stewart.”
The lawsuit also alleges false allegations that Johnny Stewart was a sex offender and those false claims with made in court without any known investigation or corroboration. There was never any evidence presented that Johnny Stewart had ever been adjudicated an unfit parent, no less a sex offender, the lawsuit claims.
Johnny Stewart actually shared parenting with his ex-wife with their two children living in the Logan area, the suit states.
The lawsuit claims a new investigation was launched against Johnny Stewart and Brandy Stewart was told by a Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy that she would never get her children back if she did not cooperate with his new investigation and admit she was being beaten and abused by Johnny Stewart.
The lawsuit also alleges the children were placed in a dangerous environment with issues including non-approved providers, unsafe living conditions, and availability of prescription drugs, as well as psychological manipulation and sexual assault.
The Boone County DHHR, Logan County DHHR, Wayne County DHHR, Boone County Sheriff’s Department, KVC Health Systems, KVCBHWV, Dr. Edward Necco and Kathy Keck are all listed as defendants in the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs have demanded a trial by jury and are being represented by Charleston attorney Trent A. Redman of The Law Offices of Redman & Payne. A telephone message for comment was not returned.
The West Virginia DHHR also did not return messages seeking comment.