Maui Lawsuit Alleges Minors Placed in Foster Care Repeatedly Sexually Assaulted
By Jon S. Jacobs, Esq., December 20, 2014
Honolulu, HI-A civil lawsuit filed on November 17, 2014, in Maui Circuit Court, alleges that two minors, placed in the custody of a foster parent by the Department of Human Services ("DHS"), were repeatedly sexually assaulted from 2009 to 2011 .
The foster parent, Florentino Rios, moved from Puerto Rico to Maui in 2008. While living in Puerto Rico, Mr. Rios married a 14-year old girl. Shortly after moving to Maui, Mr. Rios changed his name to Zack Morris, to emulate the fictional character from the children's sitcom "Saved by the Bell." Despite being unemployed and residing in a homeless shelter, Mr. Rios applied to be a foster parent, and was deemed fit to serve as one by DHS.
According to the allegations, John Doe 1 (age: 14) was placed with Mr. Rios in March 2009. During his placement with Mr. Rios, they lived together in a one bedroom apartment in Kihei with Mr. Rios, Mr. Rios' wife, the Rios' child , and another adult male. While in Mr. Rios' custody, John Doe 1 was forced to consume alcohol and was repeatedly threatened and sexually assaulted by Mr. Rios.
In 2010, after John Doe 1's placement with Mr. Rios, and before John Doe 2 was placed with him, Mr. Rios filed two (2) lawsuits against the State of Hawaii, alleging discrimination against him as a foster parent, for the State failing to provide him with "preference and placement" and "unlawful investigations" of him. Despite the unusual allegations of Mr. Rios' lawsuits, DHS nonetheless authorized the placement of John Doe 2 with Mr. Rios.
From October 2010 to October 2011 , John Doe 2 (age: 15) was placed in the custody of Mr. Rios. Prior to John Doe 2's placement, Mr. Rios had specifically requested of DHS that he serve as John Doe 2's foster parent, as they had previously met while living in a homeless shelter. At the time of John Doe 2's placement, Mr. Rios had moved to Hana, one of the most isolated and remote locations in the Hawaiian Islands. While in the custody of Mr. Rios in Hana, John Doe 2 was sexually assaulted on a daily basis, forced to watch pornographic videos, locked in an empty room, strangled, and refused contact with his biological parents and therapists.
On October 21 , 2011 , Mr. Rios was indicted by a Maui grand jury on twenty (20) felony charges arising from the sexual assaults of John Doe 1 and John Doe 2. On February 25, 2013, Mr. Rios was indicted on additional felony charges of kidnapping and sexual assault. Pursuant to a plea agreement, on February 7, 2014, Mr. Rios pleaded "no contest" to several of the felony charges arising from his sexual abuse of John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, and was sentenced to serve twenty (20) years in prison. He is currently incarcerated at the Halawa Correctional Facility.
PDF: Text of Lawsuit
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