Friday, May 9, 2008

State left foster children in dubious situation

Girls kept in home three months after sex allegations surface

Express Staff Writer

Brian Jake Adamson Jordan James Surerus

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare left two teenage girls, ages 13 and 15, in the foster care of a Carey family for more than three months after allegations arose that the girls were having sex with older boys and men in the community.

Criminal charges were ultimately filed against two Carey men, one of them a son of the foster parents, for allegedly having sexual intercourse with the 13-year-old girl.

The girls were in the care of Craig and Betty Adamson at the time the alleged sexual encounters occurred. Craig Adamson is a Carey city councilman.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's Child Protection-Foster Care offices in Bellevue and Twin Falls were notified of the allegations in early November when Betty Adamson reported possible sexual involvement by the girls to the Blaine County Sheriff's Office.

Both girls remained in the Adamson home until February. The younger girl was removed from the home in early February and the older girl toward the end of the month. Neither girl is now living in the Carey area. Blaine County court records suggest the older girl is in Caldwell.

It's not clear whether the state agency investigated or evaluated the situation because the department declined to discuss specifics of the case with the Idaho Mountain Express.

"Typically, we work with families in these situations to try to address the problem and get them the services they need to address the behaviors," said Tom Shanahan, a Health and Welfare spokesman in Boise.

"Many of the kids that we get into foster care have been abused and many of them act out sexually," he said. "The problem, in all honesty, often moves into a foster home. Moving them out just moves the problem.

"These situations are really tough. They have been emotionally traumatized. They're going to need a lot of help. We try to limit the number of moves."

Shanahan said the Adamsons' foster care license has been placed on hold pending resolution of the criminal case against their son.

"We're not making any placements with them right now," he said,

Payments to foster parents vary, but Shanahan said the Adamsons received $413 per month per child when the girls were under their care.

"As you can surmise, this is not a money-making endeavor," he said. "People become foster parents because they want to help a child who has been abused or neglected and need both a home and help. The $431 probably does not cover all of their expenses."

Betty Adamson told the Express on Wednesday that the older girl had been in the Adamsons' home since May 2007 and the younger girl was placed in their home last September.

She said the situation with the girls was the first time she and her husband have had problems involving foster children.

"We were foster parents for four years and had 14 children under our care," Betty Adamson said.

The Adamsons' son, 20-year-old Brian Jake Adamson, has been charged with rape in Blaine County 5th District Court for allegedly having sexual intercourse with the 13-year-girl in his parents' home on Oct. 19 following a Carey High School football game. A sheriff's office probable cause affidavit filed in the case alleges that both Adamson and the girl were intoxicated at the time.

Brian Adamson has been ordered by Blaine County Magistrate Court to stand trial on the charge. His arraignment in district court is scheduled for May 19. Adamson, who court records say is a student at College of Southern Idaho, is free on $5,000 bond.

Also prosecuted for allegedly having sex with the same girl was Jordan James Surerus, an 18-year-old Carey High School senior. Court records, which suggest that Surerus was in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship with the girl, allege that the sex occurred on Oct. 30.

A criminal complaint charging Surerus with rape was filed by the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office on Dec. 18. Surerus pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor battery and was sentenced on Feb. 5 to 29 days in jail.

A case involving the 15-year-old girl was investigated at about the same time as the Surerus case. That case involved allegations that the girl was having sex with a 17-year-old Carey boy, also in a boyfriend-girlfriend situation. An investigative report was filed by the sheriff's office but the prosecutor's office declined to file charges against the boy.

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