Mother of Ashley Pond plans lawsuit against DHS
The Associated Press
2/7/03 3:51 AM
OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) -- The mother of Ashley Pond is planning to sue the Oregon Department of Human Services for its handling of a sexual abuse allegation against the man charged with killing her daughter.
Lori Pond said in an interview with The Oregonian that her daughter would be alive today if the agency had better responded to complaints that Ashley was being molested by neighbor Ward Weaver.
Weaver has since been accused of killing 12-year-old Ashley and her classmate, 13-year-old Miranda Gaddis, who were both missing for months before their bodies were discovered in the backyard of Weaver's rental home last summer.
Patricia Feeny, a DHS spokeswoman, said the agency has not received the letter from Pond's attorneys and declined to comment.
The notice of intent to sue was mailed Wednesday. Pond's attorneys are considering a wrongful death suit that also could seek compensation for injuries Ashley suffered as a result of sexual abuse, physical abuse, kidnapping, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Pond also intends to file a claim for her family's mental distress and grief as a result of Ashley's death.
Other than Ashley, Pond has an infant son and two daughters. Her parenting skills were criticized last year after revelations that police and DHS employees were frequent visitors to her apartment.
One of her attorneys, Michael Haines, said that if Pond receives any money as a result of a lawsuit, it would "enhance the quality of her other children's lives."
"She wants something good to come out of Ashley's death," he said.
In the summer before her death, Ashley told friends and family that Weaver, the father of one of her friends, had molested her. Three people, including one of her former teachers and a Clackamas County deputy district attorney, reported the accusations to DHS.
An internal investigation conducted by the state showed that DHS workers failed to take any steps to determine the validity of allegations that Ashley had been sexually abused by Weaver.
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