In court documents filed last week, the Department of Human Resources is attempting to seal civil cases that say the department was grossly negligent in the Spurgeon case out of Florence.
Daniel and Jenise Spurgeon were arrested first in Florida and then Florence for abusing 11 kids they were supposed to protect while in foster care.
Attorney Tommy James filed four separate civil suits against DHR, the social workers in the Spurgeon case, and the commissioner of DHR. Each suit seeks $25 million per victim.
After James filed the civil suits, the Department of Human Resources, being represented by the Attorney General, filed a motion to seal the civil cases.
DHR's motion states:
"9. Violation of §12-15-133 and §26-14-8 are criminal offenses. Ala. Code §§12-15- 133(g) and 26-15-8(h) (1975) Thus, the disclosure of demographic and identifying information is illegal, possibly even criminal, regardless of intentionality, and the illegal disclosure in this case was done on the initial pleading. If the record is not sealed, then it is likely that nearly every pleading or filing will need to be accompanied by a request that the particular pleading be specifically protected, even against unintentional disclosure. Unless the entire record is sealed, all parties in this case will be unduly burdened to ensure that they are not violating the law by
inadvertently disclosing confidential information in a public record."
Attorney Tommy James told WAAY 31, "DHR lawyers are falsely claiming that these lawsuits are based on juvenile court proceedings and therefore should be confidential. That is ridiculous. These lawsuits are about DHR dropping the ball, which directly led to my clients being raped, sexually tortured, beaten and starved for years."
James went on to say, "DHR has operated in darkness for years and that must change. The victims in these cases suffered the most shocking abuse imaginable as a direct result of a catastrophic failure of Alabama’s child welfare system. The system is broken in Alabama and it has failed these and countless other victims and the people in our state need to know about it."
James said his clients are brave for coming forward and they don't want to see other foster kids go through this, which is why they filed the civil suits.
Daniel Spurgeon pleaded guilty to first-degree rape and sexual torture. He will spend the next 25 years in prison. Jenise Spurgeon's trial is set for 2020.